48 Inspirational Harvey Milk Quotes

Civil and human rights defender Harvey Milk is a hero to many. He broke down barriers for the gay community and other marginalized people everywhere, speaking passionately about hope and equity as a leader in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement until he was assassinated in 1978. And still, the iconic activist’s moving words live on decades later as an inspiration to be proud, be counted, and keep fighting.

Who was Harvey Milk?

Milk became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the country when he was elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, a historic victory which made news even all over the world. His unapologetic proclamation of his identity gave new hope to LGBTQ+ people, who were facing severe discrimination.

In office, his ambitious agenda included protecting gay rightsas well as establishing day care centers for working mothers, converting military installations into low-cost housing, reforming the tax code to attract industry to abandoned warehouses and factories, and other reforms.

Less than a year after taking office, Milk was murdered, along with Mayor George Moscone, by a disgruntled former City Supervisor who sneaked into City Hall through a basement window. Thousands marched in his honor after his death, and his words live on as a source of pride and inspiration.

Harvey Milk’s most memorable phrases

harvey milk quotes

Women’s Day/fake images

  1. “I have tasted freedom. I will not give up what I have tasted.”
  2. I know you can’t live on hope alone. But without hope, life is not worth living. So you, and you and you: you have to give them hope. You have to give them hope!”
  3. “We will not earn our rights by staying silent in our closets.”
  4. “The events that started the American Revolution were gatherings in houses, pubs, on street corners.”
  5. “It doesn’t take compromise to give people their rights. It doesn’t take money to respect the individual. It doesn’t take a survey to remove repressions.”
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    Women’s Day/fake images

  6. “Rights are only earned by those who make their voices heard.”
  7. “All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That’s what America is all about.”
  8. “Worry about becoming a human being and not about how you can prevent others from enjoying their lives because of your own inability to adjust to life.”
  9. “Hope will never be silent.”
  10. “We came out to tell the truth about homosexuals, because I’m tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I’m going to talk about it. And I want you guys to talk about it.”
  11. “Gay brothers and sisters… You must come out. Talk to your parents… I know it’s hard and it will hurt them, but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth!
    harvey milk quotes

    Women’s Day/fake images

  12. “Knock down the closet doors once and for all, get up and start fighting.”
  13. “Once the dialogue starts, you know you can break the prejudices.”
  14. “It is not my victory, it is yours and yours and yours. If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We have given them hope.”
  15. “Freedom is too enormous to slide under a closet door.”
  16. “Politics is theater. It doesn’t matter if you win. You make a statement. You say: ‘I’m here, pay attention to me’”.
    harvey milk quotes

    Women’s Day/fake images

  17. “If a bullet enters my brain, may that bullet destroy all cabinet doors.”
  18. “The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other reason. That, my friends, is a true perversion.
  19. “All young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which they can reach their full potential.”
  20. “I fully realize that a person who stands up for what I stand for, an activist, a gay activist, becomes the target or potential target of someone who is insecure, terrified, fearful, or very disturbed with themselves.”
  21. “I think what we really need…is a little more dirt on the seat of our pants as we sit on the front step and talk to our neighbors one more time.”
  22. “Get out of the bars and onto the streets!”
    harvey milk quotes

    Women’s Day/fake images

  23. “I finally got to the point where I knew I had to get involved or shut up.”
  24. “I will fight for you because I am you.”
  25. “Unless you have dialogue, unless you open the walls of dialogue, you will never be able to change people’s minds.”
  26. “I think I was always part of the movement. I wish I had time to explain everything I did. Almost everything was done with an eye toward the gay movement.”
  27. “Last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and the voice was young. My election gave another young man hope.”
  28. “Let my tax dollars go towards my protection and not my prosecution.”
  29. “I can’t stop anyone from getting upset, upset, or frustrated. I can only hope they turn that anger, frustration, and craziness into something positive.”
  30. “If I do a good job, people won’t care if I’m green or if I have three heads.”
  31. “Don’t sit around waiting for her to call, go after her because that’s what you should do if you love someone. Don’t wait for a sign because she may never come.”
  32. “Make no mistake about it: the American Dream starts with neighborhoods. If we want to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods. And to do that, we must understand that the quality of life is more important than the standard of living.”
    harvey milk quotes

    Women’s Day/fake images

  33. “Coming out of the closet is the most political thing you can do.”
  34. “If you are not personally free to be yourself in the most important of all human activities, the expression of love, then life itself loses its meaning.”
  35. “Some people call me the unofficial mayor of Castro Street.”
  36. “Every gay person should come out of the closet. As difficult as it is, he must tell his immediate family. You should tell your relatives. You should tell your friends if they are really your friends. You must inform the people with whom he works. You should tell the people in the stores you shop at. Once they realize that we are their children, that we are everywhere, all myths, all lies, all innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do, you’ll feel so much better.”
  37. “The only thing they have to wait for is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to turn to if the pressures at home get too great. Hope all is well”.
  38. “That’s loving someone, that’s raw and unguarded, and that’s all it’s worth anything, really.”
  39. “Without hope, there are not only the gays, but the blacks, the elderly, the disabled, the us-es. The us-es will give up.”
    harvey milk quotes

    Women’s Day/fake images

  40. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”
  41. “I think there is a distinction between those who use the movement and those who are part of the movement.”
  42. “Once and for all, destroy the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your own good. For their sake. For the sake of the young people who are scared by Dade’s votes for Eugene.”
  43. “Across the country, they’re reading about me, and the story isn’t about me being gay. It’s just about a gay person doing their job.”
  44. “If every gay person came out to only their own family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, in a matter of days the entire state would discover that we are not the stereotypes that are generally assumed.”
  45. “It means hope for a nation that has given up, because if one gay person makes it, the doors are open for everyone.”
  46. “If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight back. We have given them hope.”
  47. “I would like to see all the gay doctors, all the gay lawyers, all the gay architects come out, stand up and let the world know it. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than that no one could imagine.”
  48. “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.”

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