From the golden gates of the City by the Bay, Harvey Milk’s fight for equality and change has now spanned nearly 5,798 miles across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. territory of Guam, where America’s day begins.
Forty years ago, Harvey issued a most effective call to action – his plea for gays and lesbians to come out: “Gay brothers and sisters, you must come out. Come out to your parents... Come out to your relatives. Come out to your friends... your neighbors, to your fellow workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop… But once and for all, break down the myths. Destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”
It’s true what Harvey and others have said. Coming out to my friends and family gave me the strength to save myself from the alternative, a lifetime of denial and deceit. It inspired confidence and determination in all aspects of my life.
This call to action is also the foundation of the social justice movement of our day. It has saved the lives of countless young people struggling with the emotional toll of being rejected because of their sexuality, or the way they look or act. Violence against gays and lesbians is now prosecuted as hate and not ignored. We can openly serve in the military and marry whoever we love. It has resulted in the mainstream election of LGBTQ candidates, even in Guam.
Guided by intellect and emboldened by bravery, Harvey could be the antagonist, strategist, or reformer, depending on the moment. His work banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in San Francisco has inspired so many around the world. His fight lives on through those who seek social justice, demand safety and protection, and pursue equality and respect for all - in every society and in every language. Si Yu’os Ma’ase, Harvey.
Joshua Franquez Tenorio is Guam’s first openly gay man to have been elected to the office of lieutenant governor. He will take his oath of office and begin serving the people of Guam alongside Guam’s first female governor, Lourdes Leon Guerrero, on January 7, 2019.
-Guam Lieutenant Governor-elect Josh Tenorio