Category Archives: GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN – NBI ASSOCIATES

NEVER BLEND IN: THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILK – DAVID EQUALITY WATTERS


 

 

THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILK

– DAVID EQUALITY WATTERS

 

PART ONE: BIRTH IS THE BEGINNING

 

Birth is beginning,
Hope is its name-
A child gives meaning to the world
.

Shalom (Seymour) Freedman (born June 17, 1942)

The year was 1930, the first year of the great depression; Hoover was President, and the United States population was at 123 million and unemployment at 8.9%. 

Once a land of opportunity and optimism, America was awaking from its dream; rubbing sleep from its eyes, to witness a land of quiet desperation. Concepts of capitalism and democracy came into question and, for many, hope seemed lost.

The movie theatres were now more necessity than pleasant pastime, a place to find escape and fantasy, providing a perfect blend of glamour and gaiety; with handsome iconic stars, flawless leading ladies, comedians and character actors, who brought temporary relief from the reality of the world outside their doors.

Ironically, the nation was also alive with music that contrasted to the economic downturn. They were getting happy whilst putting on the Ritz on the sunny side of the street.

When, on 22 May 1930, Harvey Bernard Milk was born to William and Minerva Karns Milk in Woodmere, New York, there could be no speculation that he would leave such a profound imprint on the social consciousness of the world.

There were a number of complex and significant factors which influenced the development of Harvey Milk as a man of social conscience and political importance. In order to contextualise his achievements it is important to understand Harvey’s early influences, his personal relationships, early career and the changing political climate of America, during his brief but incredible life.

His Grandfather, Morris Milk, had emigrated from Lithuania to the United States in 1896 and, two years later, in 1898, founded Milk’s department store. Significantly, he was one of the founders of the Woodmere Congregation, Sons of Israel; the first synagogue in the area.

Harvey Milk, the nice Jewish boy who, as a child, was teased about his physical appearance, graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947. Here, he had played high school football and, although he acknowledged his homosexuality to himself at 14, was perceived very much as a man’s man.

Harvey’s sharp wit and talkative nature made him the class clown who would be remembered, by one of his peers in his high school yearbook as, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”

1947 TO 1951: HOMOSEXUALS AND OTHER SEX PERVERTS

From High School, Harvey progressed on to study at New York State College for Teachers in Albany. Whilst there, he majored in mathematics, wrote for the college newspaper and, in many respects, he spent his four years at college blending in. This is not to say that Harvey didn’t explore his sexuality but this was a time when open homosexuality was taboo; carrying with it a burden of severe social sanctions and legal ramifications.

After all, this was the era of Joseph McCarthy who, with many other prominent politicians, tactically played upon society’s ignorance and anxiety about sexuality in order to gain public backing for his anti-Communist crusade.

What McCarthy, Senator Kenneth Wherry and others postulated was that there was a connection between masculinity and patriotism and that homosexuals who didn’t meet their definition of masculinity, were subversives who posed a serious threat to the nation.

In 1950 the Senate committee produced a report, Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government, which contained the following words:

“As has been previously discussed in this report, the pervert is easy prey to the blackmailer… It is an accepted fact among intelligence agencies that espionage organizations the world over consider sex perverts who are in possession of or have access to confidential material to be prime targets where pressure can be exerted”.

The Lavender Scare, as it became known, ran parallel to the Red Scare and resulted in a claim by John Puerifory, the Undersecretary of state, that there was a “homosexual underground” in the State Department. This, and the claim by McCarthy that 205 communists were also in the State Department, justified the sacking of 91 homosexual employees who were seen as easy targets for blackmail and, as such, a threat to national security.

Like others of his generation, Harvey enlisted in the United States Navy. He served upon the submarine rescue ship, USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) during the Korean War and later transferred to Naval Base San Diego where he served, at the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade), as a diving instructor until 1955.

The newly established George W. Hewlett High School on Long Island was Harvey’s next career stop, where, perhaps, he learned how to hold an audience in the palm of his hand with the charm, wit and wisdom we have ourselves witnessed.

1956: JOE CAMPBELL

In 1956 Harvey met Joe Campbell, seven years his junior, at Jacob Riis Park in Queens.

Randy Shilts in, The Mayor of Castro Street, paints perfectly the story of how Harvey and Joe first met:

The hot July sun darted on Joe Campbell’s mischievous dark eyes entrancing Harvey Milk, who lay near Campbell and his friends at the gay section of Riis Park Beach in Queens. With his thick dark hair combed back, except for the waterfall curl on his forehead, the nineteen-year-old Campbell looked a lot like James Dean, only more handsome, and Harvey couldn’t take his eyes off him. Joe had at last found someone to take care of and protect him. Harvey Milk, twenty-six, found someone who needed him. ‘It was a selection basically,’ Joe Campbell said later. ‘Harvey selected me and I was in the market to be selected.’ That was how Joe and Harvey started what would be the longest relationship in either of their lives.

The pair seemed an unlikely match; Harvey, the conservative looking businessman, and Joe, the “Sugar Plum Fairy”, a part of Andy Warhol’s circle, who was immortalised in the Lou Reed song, Walk on the Wild Side.

Joe came and hit the streets, looking for soul food and a place to eat…and, for over a period of almost six years, he found this with Harvey. The couple lived together in New York, briefly in Dallas, Texas and again in New York where Milk found employment as an actuarial statistician at an insurance firm.

On paper, Harvey and Joe seemed at opposite ends of the spectrum but we all know about books and covers and whatever brought and kept them together endured beyond their time as lovers; there was a fond friendship that survived.

1962: CRAIG RODWELL

Harvey had an eye for the younger man and in 1962 became involved with Craig L. Rodwell; ten years his junior.

Rodwell (1940 – 1993) is probably best known as the founder of the first bookstore devoted to gay authors, the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore. Also an activist, Rodwell participated in numerous gay rights protests including the landmark Stonewall Riots in 1969.

It was this activism that discouraged the still closeted Harvey, who disapproved of Rodwell’s involvement with the gay activist organization, the Mattachine Society.

1963: JACK GALEN MCKINLEY

Jack Galen McKinley (1947- 1980) was 16 when he moved into Harvey’s Upper West Side apartment.

McKinley had begun stage managing some experimental projects for Tom O’Horgan, best known as director of both Hair and Jesus Christ, Superstar on Broadway, and Harvey, drawn to this world, moved to Greenwich Village, becoming an unofficial patron of the arts; financially supporting his friend’s artistic endeavours with his income on Wall Street.

The relationship with McKinley was unsettling and perplexing for Harvey; Jack’s manic-depressive behaviour, reportedly worsened through drug and alcohol use, escalated to a string of suicide attempts.

Desperate, Harvey took Jack to visit with Joe Campbell, who himself was recovering from a suicide attempt.

Valentine’s Day 1980, Jack Galen McKinley, aged just thirty-three, committed suicide in New York City. In a symbol of their mutual bond, his ashes were split and scattered in the Hudson River as well as from the Golden Gate Bridge near where he had helped to scatter Harvey’s ashes a year before.

Prompted by McKinley and the theatrical community that he had become involved with, Harvey swapped his conservative appearance for long hair and denims and his outwardly “square” lifestyle for a more honest, politically conscious approach.

In response to Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia, Harvey publicly burned his BankAmericard; Bank America were one of the war’s principal financial backers.

The nice Jewish boy, who had always followed the rules, was fired from his job, but the years of what seem random influences had equipped him with economic savvy, theatrical flair and a quick and ready wit; a Politician was born and Harvey never looked back.

 

 

PART TWO: I’M HERE TO RECRUIT YOU

1972: SAN FRANCISCO

For many, the San Francisco of 1972 was a uniquely unconventional and warmly welcoming city.  It was unlike any other city; a place of vibrancy and diversity, a haven for the disenfranchised and displaced, just as it had been for the Beatniks and hepcats of the 1940s and 50s respectively, and the numerous dishonourably discharged gay veterans from World War Two and Korea.

Many came, from across America and far beyond, bringing wildly alternative ideas and, in search of liberation, many found validation and a sense of inspiration in the innovative protest culture at this time; having escaped, they could never return to the bigoted, judgemental small towns from which they had come.

SCOTT SMITH

In this year, Harvey Milk and Scott Smith, who was to become Harvey’s long-term lover, settled in San Francisco and, like so many before them and since, they found the city to be a refuge from what Gore Vidal famously called “the entire heterosexual dictatorship of America”.

San Francisco was ripe for change but with resistance to the already sizable gay community from the Catholic Church and the, predominantly Irish, San Francisco Police Department, there would be many battles before the hope of real progress towards social equality could be attained.

The SFPD were known to use entrapment techniques and to target the gay community with the full backing of Democratic mayor, Joseph Alioto; homosexuals, at this time, could legally be evicted from rented accommodation and those convicted under the sodomy laws were registered as sex offenders for life. It wasn’t until 1974 that future mayor, George Moscone, significantly helped to overthrow California’s anachronistic sodomy laws.

CASTRO CAMERA

As 1972 drew to an end, and with their income tax refunds almost gone, Harvey and Scott needed to come up with a plan of action. They needed somewhere affordable to live and they needed to start making some money so, in his typical style, Harvey utilised his lateral thinking skills and came up with a solution; having moved to an apartment over on Castro Street, Harvey announced that  they were going to open a camera shop.

Harvey had long been a keen amateur photographer; he had purchased a 35mm Nikon rangefinder whist in the Navy and was somewhat of a documentarian.

His passion for observing and recording his world intensified in line with his deep desire and love for Scott,   who often endured Harvey’s fussing when, at times, he would be directed to pose as Harvey captured every aspect of their lives together. These intimate portraits tell a truth beyond words; that desire, domesticity, intimacy and love make no gender distinction.

Harvey, who had lost faith in the local pharmacy after they destroyed an entire roll of his film, knew that he could do a better job so, on March 3, 1973, Castro Camera, 575 Castro Street, opened for business.

His first signs of political involvement came in response to an extortionate tax assessment on his business, which he disputed and won; Milk was convinced that local businesses were being treated unfairly in relation to the big multi-nationals with whom Mayor Alioto had cultivated links.

Harvey also soon encountered organisations which, in his past he may have shunned, such as The Society for Individual Rights (a local arm of the LA based Mattachine Society; the first openly gay political organisation in the US) and the Daughters of Bilitis.

A NEW & VITAL COMMUNITY

With a steady flow of incomers, a new and vital gay community was taking up residence around the Castro; known then as Eureka Valley.

A conservative estimate at the time was that the gay community comprised 20% of the voting population and this is something which didn’t go unnoticed by the new breed of forward thinking politicians including future mayors Diane Feinstein and Willie Brown. Milk himself saw, with such a strong gay vote, that there was potential for real political progress and he began his political career.

At first, the longhaired Harvey was not taken seriously, even by the gay political establishment; he looked wrong and although his campaigns were enthusiastic they were poorly organised from the chaotic back room of his Castro Camera store.

It took some time for Harvey to find his feet in the political arena, in all he would run three times before being elected supervisor, but with each campaign he learned new lessons and developed his skills.

In his 1973 concession speech, Harvey demonstrated great dignity, determination and tenacity, “I have tasted freedom. I will not give up that which I have tasted. I have a lot more to drink. For that reason, the political numbers game will be played. I know the rules of their game now and how to play it.”

Harvey was determined to succeed and was indeed willing to play the political game; a haircut, a shave, a rejection of bathhouses and pot and an old but respectable suit were the first steps toward an outwardly respectable and more serious proposition as candidate for political office.

COMMON CAUSES & CONNECTING COMMUNITIES

Beyond his physical transformation, it was Harvey’s ability to connect with other marginalised communities which transformed his fortunes.

He was acutely aware that there were common causes which connected these diverse communities and that together they would no longer be an ineffective minority but instead a powerful voice to affect change in San Francisco.

It was his unapologetic, straight talking and spirited approach which won over both the black and Chinese community leaders, the small business owners and the union leaders.

Union boss George Evankovich, persuading colleagues to support Harvey Milk for supervisor in 1975, as quoted in Randy Shilts’ book The Mayor of Castro Street told them, “I know the guy’s a fruit, but he shoots straight with us. Let’s support him.”

When the Coors family, who were notoriously rightwing, reneged on signing a contract with the truckers’ union it was Harvey who convinced the gay bars to stop selling Coors beer. The Coors coup won him unlikely allies in the Teamster Union who learned from Harvey that their preconceptions and prejudices were based on a limited notion of the gay community and agreed to hire more gay drivers; Harvey told Allan Baird, Teamsters Union representative and director of the Coors Beer boycott in California, “You’ve got to promise me one thing. You’ve got to help bring gays into the Teamsters Union. We buy a lot of beer that the union delivers. It’s only fair that we get a share of the jobs.”

SAVE OUR CHILDREN

Another significant factor in Milk’s election was a provocatively named campaign, Save Our Children, funded by the religious right and fervently promoted by born-again Christian singer, Anita Bryant, which aimed to repeal a Dade County, Florida (now Miami-Dade County) ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

During the campaign, Anita Bryant was reported to have said, “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children” and “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters.”

Not satisfied with just Florida, Bryant made clear her intention to take her crusade nationwide, “All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God’s continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation.”

On the night that the ordinance was repealed, Harvey Milk led 3,000 gay and lesbian demonstrators through San Francisco. Emotions were high but the community were galvanised; “This is the power of the gay community,” he said to the crowd. “Anita’s gonna create a national gay force.”

All that Harvey had worked towards might still have led to a third defeat had it not been for reforms in the city charter which ensured that candidates who ran for the Board of Supervisors, in the city elections of 1977, were required to run from their own neighbourhoods rather than on a citywide basis.

Harvey’s victory as the first openly gay non-incumbent man in the United States to win an election for public office was mirrored by other firsts for the city; sworn in with Milk were also a single mother (Carol Ruth Silver), a Chinese American (Gordon Lau), and an African American woman (Ella Hill Hutch) alongside the more conventional political type, former police officer and fire-fighter and a first time supervisor, Dan White.

Harvey was fully aware of the debt owed to his many supporters and after winning his seat on the Board of Supervisors said, “It’s not my victory, it’s 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’ve given them hope.”

JACK LIRA

In the run up to his election as supervisor, Harvey was no longer in a relationship with Scott Smith and was instead involved with Jack Lira.

The pair had moved into an apartment on Henry Street, following a rent increase on the Castro Camera store and the apartment above, and Lira was by Harvey’s side as he led the procession from Castro Street to City Hall on the day of his swearing-in ceremony.

There is no doubt Harvey cared for Jack; in a love note to him in 1977, Harvey wrote, “Last night as I carried you to my bed I saw the day over and over – I needed no camera yesterday to capture glorious pictures – they are forever burnt into my heart,” but the alcoholic Lira was becoming an embarrassment and a liability. Harvey had come a long way and knew that he had to break off the relationship with Jack.

Tragically, a few weeks later, Harvey returned home to find that Lira, unable to cope, had hung himself on the back porch of their Henry Street apartment.

In office, however, Harvey thrived and demonstrated that he truly was a born politician who could demystify seemingly complex issues, put them into clear and simple terms and persuasively argue his point.

PROPOSITION 6: THE BRIGGS INITIATIVE

Spurred on by the success of Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children crusade, the ambitious conservative Californian politician, John Briggs, launched an attack of his own upon the gay community.

The initiative, Proposition 6 but commonly known as the Briggs Initiative, demonstrated outright and unashamed homophobia, calling for the mandatory firing of all gay teachers and those who supported them.

Yet again, the gay community were to be scapegoats for the religious right; labelled as predatory and pederasts who preyed upon children to “recruit” them to the gay lifestyle.

Harvey knew that although society may have moved forwards to some extent, in California at least, support for such an unconstitutional law may still exist; after all, the effects of the Dade County ruling still rippled across the nation.

He was not alone in his concerns, so with a coalition of activists which included Gwen Craig, Bill Krause, Tom Ammiano and Hank Wilson he took direct action; they went door to door, in what was the No on 6 Campaign, talking to their communities. They encouraged lesbians and gay men to come out and be visible, using the slogan, “Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!”

This handed responsibility to each individual to take action, to educate and to enlighten those closest to them who saw homosexuality as a part of other families but not of their own.

In his “That’s What America Is” speech,
given on Gay Freedom Day, June 25, 1978 in San Francisco, at San Francisco Civic Center, Harvey told a crowd of 375,000 people: “…Gay brothers and sisters,..You must come out. Come out…to your parents…I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives…come out to your friends…if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors…to your fellow workers…to the people who work where you eat and shop…come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”

Using his position as a platform to seek greater publicity to affect public support, Harvey made the most of any opportunity to utilise the power of the media, and in more than one interview tactically stated with humour and bluntness, “If it were true that children imitated their teachers, you’d sure have a hell of a lot more nuns running around!”

Thanks to Harvey’s media savvy and straight talking and to the courage, eloquence and persuasiveness of his associates, many major politicians including President Carter, former President Gerald Ford and future President Ronald Reagan disassociated themselves from the Briggs plan.

Reagan’s stance, at this time, is both remarkable and admirable since he was preparing to run for President and, regardless of the need to garner the support of conservatives and moderates, he stood by his convictions; in a statement he said, “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.”

Polls initially showed support for the initiative and in fact lead by a sizable margin, but on November 7, 1978, the initiative suffered a landslide defeat; with some direct action and public education this blatant appeal to unconcealed homophobia ran, not just out of steam but off the tracks.

DAN WHITE

Supervisor Dan White never seemed to fully adjust to his political role and, unlike Harvey, the challenges and responsibilities were not easy to assimilate; he floundered where Harvey thrived. Initially, White demonstrated support for his colleagues at City Hall and sympathetically backed Harvey’s desire to defeat the Briggs Initiative.

Conflict arose, however, when Harvey refused to support Dan White’s opposition to a mental health facility in White’s neighbourhood. In response, White made it clear that he would never back Milk again; a promise illustrated when he chose to vote against the gay civil rights law, the only supervisor to do so.

Prior to his foray into politics, White had been employed as both a police officer and a fire-fighter and although he had voted against a pay increase for supervisors, he found it difficult to support his family on his meagre salary; White resigned, giving this as his reason.

NOVEMBER 27, 1978                        

Supporters encouraged White to reconsider, promising financial support, but there were others who lobbied the Mayor to dismiss thoughts of reappointment; notably Carol Ruth Silver, Willie Brown and Harvey Milk.

White was angry that the Mayor had refused to re-appoint him to his seat on the Board of Supervisors and he knew that Milk had lobbied against his reappointment.

On the day that Mayor Moscone was set to formally appoint White’s successor, Don Horanzy, Dan White packed his loaded service revolver and ten extra rounds of ammunition into his jacket pocket.

He then had a friend drive him to City Hall where, avoiding the metal detectors, White climbed in through an open first floor window.

He headed firstly to the mayor’s office, where George Moscone was meeting with Willie Brown. Brown left and the mayor met with White in the outer office but, when he refused to reconsider the decision to re-appoint White, the conversation became heated.

To avoid a scene, Moscone led White to the private lounge attached to his office. He had lit a cigarette and was pouring them both a drink when White produced his revolver, fired two shots to the Mayor’s shoulder and chest, then two more shots, at close range into his head.

As he left the Mayor’s office, Diane Feinstein, unaware of what had just occurred, called out to him.

“I have something to do first”, White responded, then headed in the direction of his former office. Just outside, he ran into Harvey who agreed to join him in his office; perhaps in the hope of offering an explanation, perhaps to state his perspective on why he felt White should not be reinstated, no-one can know.

Tactically positioned between Harvey and the doorway, Dan White pulled out his gun and fired. It would appear that Harvey had reacted quickly as it was his right wrist that White first shot, his arm raised, one may imagine, protecting himself.

The next shots were fired rapidly with two to Harvey’s chest and the fourth to Harvey’s head. Not satisfied or fully avenged, White then, at close range, fired one fifth and final bullet into Harvey’s skull.

As he fled, Diane Feinstein approached and entered the office where Harvey’s lifeless body lay.

Checking for a pulse, Feinstein reached for Harvey’s wrist; one can only imagine her horror.

Courageously, Diane Feinstein, looking tearful and visibly shaken from the trauma, announced to an incredulous public that, “As President of the Board of Supervisors, it’s my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”

Dan White fled unchallenged from City Hall, eventually handing himself in to his former precinct and to former colleague, Frank Falzon.

In his recorded confession, the broken and defeated former police officer sobbed his admission to the murders but denied that his actions were premeditated.

That night, one of the most emotive and inspiring acts of mass mourning, an impromptu candlelight march, starting in the Castro and leading to the steps of City Hall, took place. There were tens of thousands, who chose to mark their respect for George Moscone and Harvey Milk, with dignity and in solidarity.

American folk singer and activist, Joan Baez, sang the entirely appropriate, “Amazing Grace” and, fittingly, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, though many were undoubtedly distressed, performed a solemn hymn by Mendelssohn.

In a statement after the City Hall killings, President Carter described Harvey as, “A hardworking and dedicated supervisor, a leader of San Francisco’s gay community, who kept his promise to represent all constituencies.”

Honoured by the city, Milk and Moscone both lay in state at City Hall.

Moscone was buried at Holy Cross cemetery in Colma, following his funeral at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Milk was cremated and his ashes, wrapped in a Doonesbury and Peanuts comic-strips and with R.I.P spelled out in rhinestones, were scattered at sea by his closest friends; Scott Smith, Galen McKinley, Joe Campbell, Billy Wiegardt and Daniel Nicoletta.

White was convicted, not of first degree murder but of voluntary manslaughter, and was given a sentence of seven years. The verdict and lenient sentence were insulting and provoked anger throughout the shocked and bewildered city.

THE WHITE NIGHT RIOTS

That night, May 21, 1979, the eve of what would have been Harvey’s 49th birthday, the day of sentencing for his murderer, Dan White, a second impromptu vigil began.

As the crowds gathers outside City Hall, news came through of White’s sentence.

The outraged crowd cracked and the now famous “White Night Riots”, began; with much of the anger aimed at the San Francisco Police Department.

Police cars were set on fire, windows at City Hall and nearby buildings were shattered in outrage by the incensed, incredulous crowd; they had been failed by the legal system and this further evidenced a disregard for the gay community and their supporters.

In retaliation to the riots, armed police raided the popular Gay bar, Elephant Walk (later renamed Harvey’s) on the corner of Castro and 18th, destroying the interior and viciously beating its patrons. In what mirrored the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the clientele fought back with many others, who arrived en masse to say, enough is enough.

 

 

PART THREE: HOPE WILL NEVER BE SILENT

THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILK

Harvey Milk was a man like any other; he was complex, he was flawed but Harvey was also a man of high integrity whose social conscience and sensitivity to injustice shaped his desire to affect real and lasting social change.

Stuart Milk says of his uncle, “My uncle was not the first openly LGBT person elected to public office in the US but he was the first to a substantial office and the first to actively proclaim his sexuality and not back up from it. I am very proud of my Uncle both as a dear Uncle whom I lost as a teenager and as a worldwide civil rights visionary!”

His story is powerful because it reminds us all that bigotry and social hostility should never define us or limit us from fulfilling our full potential. The opinions of others are just that, opinions. Their beliefs are merely perceptions based on their own set of unique social influences.

Harvey was a gay man, Harvey was a Jewish man and Harvey was also a moral, freethinking and innovative man who, having self-repressed for much of his life, decided to live with authenticity; at which point his choices became focussed and his life took a clearer and more purposeful direction.

His sexuality was a part of who he was but it was not all that he was. What his sexuality did inform, however, was his understanding of oppression and his sense of social justice.

He was an eloquent, witty and informed speaker who cut through confused closed minded conservative thinking using tactics like reversal and humour to make his point. He was a firm believer in and builder of communities, where common causes and shared goals could bring positive outcomes for all.

In a 1973 speech during his first unsuccessful run for supervisor, Harvey succinctly simplified this philosophy, “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.”

Cleve Jones, human rights activist, author, lecturer and Milk protégé attributes much of Harvey’s impact on society more to his assassination than his life: “His murder and the response to it made permanent and unquestionable the full participation of gay and lesbian people in the political process.”

Jean O’Leary, who was director of the National Gay Rights Advocates, remarked, in 1989, that, “Every movement needs its hero, and, by his death, Harvey became a symbol, a rallying cry of never, never again.”

IMMORTALITY

Harvey Milk, the self proclaimed Mayor of Castro Street, was a hero, a martyr and a role model who empowered and galvanised a community, giving hope to the disenfranchised and inspiring others to “Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.”

His legacy lives on in the friends and colleagues whose lives he influenced and the countless individuals who lived through the turbulent early days of gay liberation.

Harvey has been immortalised in print and in song, in sculpture and in fine art, theatre and in film.

When she heard news of the Milk/ Moscone murders, singer/songwriter Holly Near immediately composed “Singing for Our Lives”, also known as “Song for Harvey Milk”.

There are, in San Francisco and across America, streets, buildings, festivals and memorial days dedicated to him and, in these modern times, numerous websites, fan pages and academic citations to be easily found online; Google his name and you’ll find around 1.5 million results in under 30 seconds! There’s even a band called Harvey Milk.

Most recently, of course, is the multi award winning movie, MILK, directed by Gus Van Sant and featuring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk.

Dustin Lance Black, on receipt of his Oscar for Best Screenplay, emotionally, his voice shaking, gave thanks to Harvey Milk, “When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life; it gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married. Most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.”

 

Sean Penn, who also received an Oscar that evening, either still in character or channelling Harvey, used his acceptance speech to urge opponents of same-sex marriage to rethink their positions, “…for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”

MILK was preceded by an Academy Award winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, directed by Rob Epstein and based on the Randy Shilts book, The Mayor of Castro Street; which is widely regarded as the definitive biography of Harvey Milk.

 

Other significant books include, The Harvey Milk Story by Kari Krakow, A Letter to Harvey Milk: Short Stories by Lesléa Newman and most recently, No Compromise: The Story of Harvey Milk by David Aretha, Double Play: The Hidden Passions Behind the Double Assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, Mike Weiss and The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words edited by Vince Emery

In 1991, there came a musical theatre production entitled The Harvey Milk Show (Book & Lyrics by Dan Pruitt, Music by Patrick Hutchison) and, in 1996, Harvey Milk, an opera, written by Stewart Wallace and described as, “exploring Milk’s character as a complex interplay between his dual heritage: part gay, part Jewish”.

Harvey was listed as one of “Time 100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century” and The Advocate listed Milk third in their “40 Heroes of the 20th century” issue, in which Dianne Feinstein states: “His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights.”

Honouring Harvey Milk, as one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barak Obama said, “These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds.  Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs.  Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change.  Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.

“Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive.  It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom.”

“His name was Harvey Milk and he was here to recruit us, all of us, to join a movement and change a nation. For much of his early life, he had silenced himself. In the prime of his life, he was silenced by the act of another, but in the brief time in which he spoke and ran and led, his voice stirred the aspirations of millions of people. He would become, after several attempts, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. In his message of hope, hope unashamed, hope unafraid, could not ever be silenced. It was Harvey who said it best, “You gotta give ‘em hope”

Harvey’s nephew, Stuart Milk, accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf.

Later in 2009, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared May 22, Harvey’s birthday, as “Harvey Milk Day”, and inducted Milk into the California Hall of Fame.

It was Harvey’s brother Robert who, quoted in The Mayor of Castro Street, best expressed what his legacy could be, “Harvey was a pioneer of the 20th century. His struggle and his deeds will prove to history that there’s no such thing as a gay way, there is only one way. … The citizens of San Francisco can make Harvey live forever by continuing to do things his way, in the deeds and in the accomplishments of their daily efforts to make their great city live.”

Harvey Bernard Milk was a pioneer, a visionary, a tenacious, tireless and determined advocate for social equality but he was also a man who only found his calling when he found himself. His journey towards self-efficacy is what makes Harvey interesting and to know that he struggled before finding his authentic core demystifies the man and gives hope to us all that somehow in some way we too may be capable of great things.

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National Diversity Award Winner, David E. Watters, is a teacher, motivational speaker and writer; a passionate equality advocate, committed to enhancing the lives of young people and adults who may feel marginalised or limited by labels.

As a teacher, he is committed to developing the whole person through creatively challenging students to embrace their unique value, and that of others, to encourage them to fulfill their full potential. He was nominated for an Excellence in Diversity Award 2015, for his contribution to enhancing the diversity agenda within education and for two European Diversity Awards because of his work with the Give ’em Hope Campaign.

Since graduating from The Institute of Education, University of London, David has gone on to train as a mediator, and is a qualified facilitator for The Pacific Institute. 

As Director of NBI Associates, David devises and delivers engaging, enjoyable and interactive Diversity and Cultural Enhancement workshops utilizing Cognitive Behavioural and Performing Arts strategies for individual, corporate and academic clients.

Watters is also the founder and coordinator of the inclusive, inspirational and international Give ‘em Hope Campaign; an online initiative which utilises all available social networks to encourage and uplift those who doubt their validity, feel isolated or limited by labels, through the sharing of written and video testimonies. The campaign was honoured at the National Diversity Awards 2014 when it won the Community Organisation Award (Multi-Strand).

Watters was a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK; taking the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 and successfully achieving Marriage Equality for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

http://equallove.org.uk/

His passion and expertise has brought many opportunities to write and speak on social change and his book, NEVER BLEND IN, brings together this wealth of experience and the voices of those whom he has met along the way.

SKYPE: never.blend.in

TWITTER: @NEVER_BLEND_IN (FOR NEWS ABOUT THE BOOK AND THE GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN)

WEBSITE: https://www.facebook.com/NBIAssociates/

BOOK WEBPAGE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/106980051654/

GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN PLAYLIST: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2D507F373FE6BC7D

GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN GROUP (or FAMILY as we call it): https://www.facebook.com/groups/GiveEmHope/
GIVE ‘EM HOPE PAGE (Come and LIKE us for news and Inspiration): https://www.facebook.com/GIVEemHOPE/  
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Retreating Forward IS Possible – David E Watters


My Give ’em Hope brother, David Weekley, has written a second book and I have had the great honour of writing the Foreword. This book is valuable to those who are transgender and to those who wish to gain an understanding into how gender identity and faith can be reconciled. This conversation is needed and this book is a great introduction to the topic because faith and spirituality are needs, desires and a right for all.

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You are not alone


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Please reach out to those who want to support you. Please don’t lose hope. You’re too good a person to give up and remember that you have survived so much already that you thought would break you before. This has prepared you to face what’s troubling you now. 

* For confidential help in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#

* For confidential support on suicide matters in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here: http://www.samaritans.org/ 

Join the Give ’em Hope Family on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GiveEmHope/


Star Seeded Soul, Karen Adell Scot for neverblendin and The Give ’em Hope Campaign 


Once again, our altruistic friend Karen candidly shares a relatable story from her life. 

  

In this article, our divinely human sister shows that self-respect and respectful responses to others can open hearts and minds. We are all struggling in one way or another and our compassion, our empathy and our kindness are what elevate is to a higher dimension. 

  

We are made of stars and Karen Adell Scot is a Star Seeded Soul who exists to leave a trail of joy behind, as she passes through life.

  
I guess “passing” can mean things one does not expect… 

  

I arrived at the Warnor’s theater in Fresno, CA to see “The Princess Bride” about an hour and a half early to get good parking. I walked past the theater and into the north end of the Fulton Mall in downtown, not the greatest of areas, and sat down on a bench to read a romance novel I have been enjoying. I was dressed in a low cut red top with a black scarf covering my now ample cleavage, a Scots plaid miniskirt over cute black flower tights and over-the-knee “tinkerbelle” black socks with silver sparkles all over them. The punky outfit was finished off with calf-high black boots. Since it was cold I was in a leather bomber jacket with a black fur collar. I didn’t realize how very different a happy 5’10” Blonde in a punk outfit would stand out like beacon… But I was about to find out.   

 
Three men were walking and chatting with each other and when they got to me, the guy in the center did the best double-take I have ever seen and exclaimed “Ay-Caramba! Mira…” and all three looked at me and nearly instantly said, “Hi there!” I kindly greeted them and went back to my book. They chatted in Spanish about me until out of hearing, and one was holding his hands up like he had boobs. I thought, “How nice.”   

 
A man driving a truck turned a fishing boat around in the street and parked it. When he walked by me. He smiled a huge smile and said, “Well hi there pretty lady!” I greeted him in return and we chatted about his fishing boat he was towing and about the fact he loved fishing. He walked into a building and upon return, asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him. I told him I was there to see a movie, but thanked him for the kind invite. He said, “Too bad dear” and went back to his truck and drove off with a final smile at me, shaking his head sadly.  
Another man passed me on a bicycle and when he saw me he nearly crashed it. He said, “Whoa… Hello!” I returned his greeting and went back to my book. Two minutes later, “Mr. Hello” came back, parked his bicycle and looked at me. (You know ladies, like, REALLY looked at me.) 

  

He stated that he was, “Very Lonely” and hoped I could help him with that. 

Oh my God, I was being propositioned because he thought I was a sex worker! So much for the cute punky clothes! 
I told him that I was not interested in providing him with relief from being lonely and was just downtown to see a movie, then I pointed at the movie theater about 40yds away. He looked disappointed but then sat down right next to me, by my purse, on the bench. I already had my arm through the handles of my purse, but now pulled my purse tighter toward my left hip.

Now, for those of you who do not know me, I am a martial arts master trained in weapons or non-weapons fighting. I am very accomplished. I was in no fear whatsoever from any threat from this man. 
He looked at me with inebriated, watery eyes and told me I was “very pretty.” He told me he would make me very happy if I was his girlfriend. 

  

I now viewed him with my heart and was struck with the poor condition of this man. He was pasty, glassy-eyed and his physical condition pointed to a very poor diet. I decided to try to communicate. 

  
I turned, put away my book and then, to my shock, the man began caressing my outer left thigh with his hand! I turned back in a flash! 
I instantly blocked his hand and told him to not do that again. He said, “That felt so good!” I told him, “No it didn’t! You need to know that I am a woman who was a Deputy Sheriff and am highly trained to stop any attack upon my person. Do not do that again! Now, let’s talk.” 

  
I discovered his name was Arthur, and he had completely alienated all of his family. His three kids lived in Hawaii and he had once been a painter by trade. He didn’t even know where his kids lived nor how to contact them. He hadn’t worked in ages. He had pretty much ended up on the streets of Fresno because the weather was pretty warm, he could get free food every day and could get alcohol. He had become locked into a pattern from which there was no escape without effort. He had no prospects for the future and was kind of in purgatory. He had settled into living in his stable vagrant lifestyle. 

  

We shared about his life and his hopelessness came through so powerfully. I encouraged him to not give up on his life. We chatted and I could see his desire was more for just a real life than for sex with a tall blonde woman before him, although he would have liked that immensely. He was a fellow human being just like me. He had lost hope. I knew what it felt like to lose hope. 

  

In the end, I bid him adieu and went to see the movie. I will continue to pray for Arthur and the many Arthur’s all across America who are totally valuable human beings who have turned down paths in life that are not the best choices for them. 

  

Last night, I was totally and truly who I am: Just a woman, who became a target for attention by men who were very sad and lonely. I was affirmed in my femininity but also became saddened by the men who in either lust, desperate loneliness or both, sought my female sexual attention. As simply a fellow human being, I hope to see things change to help men like Arthur.

  

  


KEEP SMILING


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Well, it was not a bad day today, at all – Classes are adjusting to my Dalai Lama approach and we are making progress. Overcoming what seemed a daunting challenge has brought many rewards already.

It’s a great feeling to already be positively acknowledged and validated by individuals who are not necessarily forthcoming with praise; why would or should they? They are, after all, teenagers.

One boy wanted to take me home because he loves me! I was offered somewhere in the region of £65 million to come and stay with him and his family! Aw…bless him! I’m “100% the best teacher ever!”, according to this pupil!

Then on the bus home, I was surrounded by raucous, high-spirited girls who wanted to know how I could smile all the time. Instead of my “because I’m weeping inside” response, I told them that I think it’s important to spread the positivity and joy. Apparently, according to one, this is a real talent.

I am exhausted but in a good way and feel blessed to have this new opportunity to grow.

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AIDS WALK TAMPA BAY: Why I Am Walking and Fundraising By Joe Mannetti


AIDS WALK TAMPA BAY:

Why I Am Walking and Fundraising

VIVID COLOR

On September 6, 2014 (Saturday), I will be taking part in my first big event since I moved to Florida. I will proudly be joining Matthew D. Moss, Tim Taylor, Adam Sakowski, Roger Bell, Edward James, and Erik Bole of the Tampa Bay Outlaws Country Western Dance Team as we walk with others at the AIDS Walk Tampa Bay event in support of the HIV/AIDS outreach services provided by AIDS Service Association of Pinellas. I just moved to this area in Florida. I want to get off on the right foot by doing the right thing.

 

MATT & JOE CROPPED

 

My friend Matt Moss and his team, the Tampa Bay Outlaws, are helping me to do that by allowing me to have the honor of walking with them.

 

TAMPA BAY OUTLAWS

 

I have been involved in outreach and fundraising supporting HIV/AIDS services in Los Angeles, New York City, and in Connecticut. I have worked as an HIV testing counselor in various cities as well. I am very appreciative that Matt and his team are allowing me to continue supporting the people I love living with HIV/AIDS in my new home here in Florida. Please, donate what you can to help us reach our goal. Any amount helps, and every donation counts. As long as there is not a cure or a vaccine for the HIV virus, it impacts all of our lives and the lives of people we love.

Here is a the link to my donation page:
http://www.aidswalktampabay.org/personalpage?tab=0&frsid=8120

and here is the link to the team’s page:

http://www.aidswalktampabay.org/teampage?tab=0&frtid=20967

Donations to either link all collectively go towards funds that support the HIV/AIDS outreach services provided by AIDS Service Association of Pinellas.

 

POSTER

 

 

Here are some important statistics taken from ASAP’s page to consider:

HIV/AIDS IN FLORIDA: A SNAPSHOT through 2010

BLACKS –  HIV has been the leading cause of death for blacks between the ages of 25and 44 in Florida. In 2010, HIV was dropped to the 4th leading cause of death among blacks. HIV was also the leading cause of death among black women 25-44, dropped to 2nd for the first time in 2010. According to both national and Florida data, the survival time from AIDS diagnosis to death significantly shorter for blacks than other racial/ethnic groups.

 

WOMEN – In Florida, women ages 13 and over accounted for 11% of reported AIDS cases in 1987. That figure steadily rose to 32% in 2010. Women accounted for 25% of the HIV cases reported in 2010.

 

MEN – In Florida, men ages 13 and over accounted for 89% of reported AIDS cases in 1987. That proportion steadily declined to 68% in 2010. Men accounted for 75% of the HIV cases reported in 2010. In 2010, 2,362 AIDS and 3,873 HIV cases were reported among men.

 

HISPANICS – The proportion of all newly reported adult HIV cases among Hispanics increased from 17% in 2001 to 22% in 2010. In 2010, HIV was the 6th leading cause of death in Florida for Hispanic men ages 25-44, and the 5th leading cause of death for Hispanic women ages 25-44.

 

MSM – Men who have sex with men (MSM) represent more than half of the newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS cases among adult men in Florida, followed by heterosexual sex and injection drug use (IDU). Among adult and adolescent males living with HIV disease in Florida and reported through 2010, MSM represents the highest risk within each of the racial/ethnic groups.

Thank you for supporting us with your donations, and thank you for caring! Together, we can make a difference.

PLEASE, MAKE A DONATION BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

http://www.aidswalktampabay.org/personalpage?tab=0&frsid=8120

 

AIDS SERVICE ASSOCIATION OF PINELLAS

3050 1ST AVENUE S

SAINT PETERSBURG, FL 33712

Phone: (727) 328-3260

http://www.asapservices.org 

 

TAMPA BAY OUTLAWS

An LGBT and supporting country western dance team.

Email: info@tampabayoutlaws.com

http://tampabayoutlaws.com/

 

FACTS AND STATISTICS:

Did you know that in the U.S., 1 in 5 persons infected with HIV is unaware of their status? (Info: Kaiser Family Foundation)

Talking openly about HIV can reduce the stigma that keeps too many from seeking the testing, prevention and treatment services, and support they need. Do you know YOUR status? (Info: CDC)

 


WE ARE ONE FAMILY FOR “GIVE ‘EM HOPE” – RACHEL WOLFF


RACHEL WOLFF

Rachel Wolff is an angel. My heart is full of love and admiration for this incredibly eloquent and inspiring equality advocate. She is a straight woman with gay pride and very dear friend. Here is her endorsement for the Give ’em Hope Campaign’s nomination for the National Diversity Awards 2014.

Transcript is below the video.

 

 

Everyone should feel like they are welcomed as part of the whole, yet not everyone is.  — We are of one family – the family of humanity: We are of one heart – we are one heartbeat in the family of humanity and this means that we were not meant to live our lives in in isolation; in quiet desperation. 

Our homes, our neighborhoods our workplaces and our communities should be havens of safety; yet they are not. 

Everyone has the right to live and to live together in peace and harmony; therefore we should never accept any barbarous act or actions by a body of people that would outrage the conscience of mankind. Yet we do.  We should never accept bias or bigotry, yet we do.

Everyone should enjoy all economic, social and cultural rights – these are indispensable for our dignity and the free development of our personality. Yet homophobic climates deny these basic rights to millions. 

All people have the inalienable and inherent right to love and we cannot in good conscience disregard or withhold the basic needs to others and we should never hold anyone in contempt for ‘loving differently.’ 

Everyone has the right to know and be known – to see and be seen – to understand and be understood. Everyone has the right to feel safe; to enjoy peace; to experience serenity and tranquility in their home, their neighborhood and community, yet this is not so. 

Everyone is different – yet we are all he same: We should recognize the inherent dignity and promote these equal and inalienable rights to all members of the human family as this is the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world.  Yet we don’t.

We all need to feel welcome, that we are a part of the whole: We should be welcoming the advent of a world in which everyone enjoys freedom of from fear: of harassment, persecution, prosecution, punishment and torment.  Yet many people don’t want this for their citizens.

The Give ‘Em Hope Campaign promotes more than acceptance of GLBT – we promote life; we promote equality of rights, we promote more than friendship and respect.  

To give GLBT hope means we promote the spirit of brotherhood, we value the wide range of differences that exists among all people and volunteers are welcomed: We need your voices: we need your voices to continue our work of promoting inclusion … we need your voices to help us continue to provide a safe place for LGBT people to share their dreams and fears, their hopes and their grief.   

The Give ‘Em Hope volunteers understand the need for inclusion since so many of our family members and friends have been disowned and discarded; our friends – our family members have begged and pleaded – they’ve bled and died. We understand the needs as well as recognize the great responsibility … it is our responsibility to promote friendship and we are here to provide the tender warmth of familial love that has been denied to so many — familial love that so many of our visitors have never known.

Everyone should feel like they are welcomed as part of the whole, yet not everyone is.  — We are of one family – the family of humanity: We are of one heart – we are one heartbeat in the family of humanity and this means that we were not meant to live our lives in in isolation; in quiet desperation. 

 

 

NEVER LOSE HOPE

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: David E Watters
Company Name: GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN (NBIAssociates)

Telephone Number: 07800 813 189
Email Address: DavidWatters@nbiassociates.co.uk
Web site address: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html

 

 

Give ‘em Hope Campaign shortlisted for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards

 

The Give ‘em Hope Campaign, from the UK but operating worldwide, has been nominated for and have made the shortlist for the­ Community Organisation Award for Multi-Strand at The National Diversity Awards.

 

Headline sponsors Microsoft are just one of the brands supporting a sky fall of diversity talent – positive role models, community organisations and businesses from the LGBT, ethnic minority, age, gender, religion and disability communities.

 

Over 21,000 nominations were received this year paying tribute to inspirational individuals and groups nationwide that have dedicated their lives to enhancing the equality agenda.

 

WHAT IS THE GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN?

Stage One – The Give ‘em Hope Campaign is an inclusive and inspirational celebration of diversity; an online initiative to encourage and uplift those who feel marginalised, isolated or limited by labels. We exist to bring hope to those who need it most and do so by sharing our stories.

The campaign was founded by David E Watters in early 2011 and has grown, with the support of numerous international cheerleaders and proactive participants.

The Give ‘em Hope Campaign aims to eradicate limiting labels in society by acknowledging our similarities, whilst celebrating our differences.

Unlike other diversity campaigns, The Give ‘em Hope Campaign is an international fully-inclusive initiative, not focussed solely on one “community”, for that in itself can be limiting and perhaps divisive. This has meant that we have a range of video and written testimonies which explore living with HIV/ AIDS, coping with “coming out” as LGBTQ, learning to understand life on the autistic spectrum, ageism, racism, surviving serious life-threatening illnesses, coping with family rejection and so many more. The website best illustrates the diverse range of contributions: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html

Further to this, we have many creative contributors who are musicians and have chosen to musically participate. Inspiring is the range of genres that effortlessly work as tools for social and political commentary; this has been important because music takes us beyond the ordinary and communicates on a level which resonates far deeper than words alone can.

GIVE ‘EM HOPE CAMPAIGN – MUSIC VIDEO COMPILATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqc9hfgPd1E

Our aim, to develop a cohesive society, utilises all available online social networks and video-sharing websites to assist anyone who may feel isolated, marginalised or limited by labels, to develop a better sense of living with personal authenticity, so that they can achieve their full potential. The greatest gift that a person can give is their true self. The individual can flourish and their family, community and the wider world can benefit from the immeasurable positivity that comes with living a free and limitless life.

The campaign was established in 2011, by David E Watters, a teacher and Diversity Specialist who saw an opportunity to harness the positive power of the internet and use it as a tool to speak to a worldwide audience.

As with any organisation, promoting diversity and supporting those who are in need of support and encouragement requires a diverse family network of volunteers. With this in mind, David began to reach out to members of the Give ‘em Hope facebook group and select the most active contributors who had the life-experience and skillset required to mentor those who were brave enough to recognise that the altruistic compassion and support that was readily offered was exactly what they needed. There are now over 20 administrators across the globe, meaning that there is an online presence at any time of the day or night.

The campaign began with a single video, inviting individuals, couples and groups to participate and make their own video about surviving the stereotypes and developing a sense of self-worth, having been limited by others, themselves or both, by the labels that had boxed them in and had defined and trapped them; many to the point of self-harm and suicide ideation.

These powerful videos were made, and continue to be made by people from a range of backgrounds; so in terms of diversity and the Equality Act 2010, one might refer to these as individuals who identify with one or more of the Protected Characteristics of Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion and belief, Sex and Sexual orientation.

For those who were unable to create a video, a second option arose, and many more contributors began emailing their written stories or directly uploading them to our social networks.

Stage Two, has included written stories of HOPE from those who have freed themselves from limiting labels and who can now celebrate their individuality.

Stage Three, is the living family support network which flourishes on facebook. Both the group and sister page are staffed by an international team of compassionate administrators, of diverse backgrounds, who provide unrivalled support and guidance.

Friendships have been formed and as clichéd as it may sound, there is a genuine sense of being part of an international family, in which people from all age-groups, cultures, genders and sexual orientations thrive and nurture each other.

OUR BACKGROUND, AS EXPLAINED BY SOME OF OUR INTERNATIONAL FAMILY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A28skAO0AQ8

 

Just some of our Votes and Endorsements:

Saturday, April 12, 2014 – “This is a unique campaign which aims to eradicate limiting labels through the use of social media tools. The campaign began on facebook and youtube and now covers all social media and has many strands to offer support and validation to anyone who may feel marginalised. The Give ‘em Hope Campaign is an inclusive and inspirational celebration of diversity; an online video initiative to encourage and uplift those who feel marginalised, isolated or limited by labels. We exist to bring hope to those who need it most and do so by sharing our stories. The campaign was founded by David E Watters in early 2011 and has grown, with the support of numerous international cheerleaders and proactive participants. This quiet, unassuming campaign has positively changed numerous lives across the globe.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 – “I have watched this organization / cause change lives. The give em hope campaign does exactly what it says, it gives people hope. They take all comers, gay, straight, black, white, female, male…doesn’t matter. A person that is very special to me lost her niece and they took her in with open arms and helped her through one of the most trying times of her life. I have seen example after example of compassion, kindness, support and love by David & the Give ‘em Hope campaign. They are everything good in this world.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 – “I am voting for Give ‘em Hope because they are deserving of my support and vote I learned of David Watters and Give ‘em Hope back when David first began in 2011. I watched as Give ‘em Hope reached out through face book to those who felt that they did not matter. They reached out to those in the LGBT community no matter where they lived they are an inspiration to me and to many others. They really do care about the LGBT community and bring cis and hetero allies together I wish there was more to say but I feel I had said it all I see a bright wonderful future for Give ‘Em Hope I look forward to seeing what more they can do please consider Give ‘Em Hope they truly are deserving of recognition “

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 – “David’s “Give ‘em Hope Campaign” is filled with the faces of a true diverse population. His words and actions encourage us to focus on our better angels to show love for ourselves and for those around us. This is especially true for traumatized LGBTQ people. David is persistent, inspired, and inspiring.”

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “Faith, hope and love; while the greatest of these is supposed to be love, without “hope” there can be no reason to have faith in love. “

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “basic human rights for everyone”

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “There is no better place for people, who can’t deal problems alone. Wisdom, laughs and care you will find there, always someone who listen. never it’s a question, where people are from, sexuality, age or skin. They stand up for each other, for human rights and find for every question an answer, for every problem a solution.”

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “Because its outreach to young LGBTQ folks still struggling to come out, here in the 21st Century of the Common Era, is extraordinary! And having the tireless David Watters at the helm is a gift to everyone”

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “I believe that it’s time that people were heard and through this beautiful campaign, not only do they have a voice, but also a family. “

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “I have seen the campaign grow and develop from its inspection in 2011, and the passion, professionalism and believe behind those that are involved is not just inspiring & inclusive – which it is, but life affirming as well. “

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “This campaign has inspired me to be myself, and not be ashamed or afraid to be me, this campaign also helped me come out to my parents. The give me hope campaign has helped a long way, labels used to bring me down and make me feel worthless, now I don’t anymore. This campaign has also helped a lot of other people in many and different ways. I’m giving the give me hope campaign my vote!”

Monday, July 14, 2014 – “I have watched this campaign and the wonderful people involved in it grow and give love and support to people all over the globe. They follow in the footsteps of the late, great Harvey Milk and carry his legacy to future generations. They are love and hope personified! “

Sunday, July 13, 2014 – “David Waters and The Give ‘em Hope Campaign gave me back hope when I felt like there was none. My 14 year old niece and her best friend committed suicide together as a result of being bullied and being tormented about their sexual orientation. I’m not clear on how I came across this campaign during that horrible time of my life but I am absolutely clear on knowing that I was welcomed in with open and loving arms. It’s not a campaign solely about being gay or straight; it’s a campaign of love and acceptance and of making every individual understand that it’s okay to be who you are; it’s okay to be you, to be unique, to be different, to embrace yourself and others no matter what. The Give ‘em Hope Campaign knows no boundaries; whether gay, straight, black, white, yellow, male female, transgender, old, young or whatever place in the world you come from, the Give ‘em Hope Campaign is a common place of acceptance and unconditional love. I have seen many many stories come through this campaign; many of them heart-breaking and many of them so very inspirational. I see a place where anyone and everyone can come together and share and be supported and feel safe and feel worth and love and feel okay again. I have watched this campaign flourish and reach every corner of the globe, bringing people that felt hopeless and unheard and outcast together as a family. David Waters has been the ‘father’ of this campaign, encouraging and loving and holding it together in every way possible. I am an advocate against bullying in any form and I know the work and dedication it takes to keep such a beautiful thing together. David Waters has gone above and beyond to make that and so much more happen for so many people. He is a special soul with an amazing purpose and that has overflowed into this campaign and all of the people ‘family’ that are a part of it. I know that I don’t stand alone when I say that the Give ‘em Hope Campaign and David Waters have made the World a more beautiful place to be and that I know it’s only just beginning. If more people in this World could just see humanity through the eyes of this one man and what this Give ‘em Hope Campaign and its members stand for, fight for and believe in… what a beautiful place it would be! “

Sunday, July 13, 2014 – “Can’t think of a better place for people to get help on-line.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014 – “GIve Em Hope is an amazing campaign. As a young child growing up is hard enough, growing up and feeling different is even worse. That added pressure of knowing that you cannot share your experience with others through fear of what actions they will take if you do. This campaign is ground-breaking. You tell your story about what it was like for you growing up. Youngster and older people around the world can share those stories and see themselves in what people have done and realise that they are not alone. I really wish this campaign was around when I was growing up this would have made my life so much more easier and I would have felt like I didn’t actually waste my teenage years hiding who I truly was. “

Saturday, June 21, 2014 – “I don’t believe in hope. Maybe I need some anyway.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014 – “I’m voting for the give em hope campaign, because I think it’s one of the most diverse helpful and influential campaigns around its concept is amazing. “

Sunday, June 8, 2014 – “David works so hard to do the right and proper thing for everyone. I know he is a good decent man and I would not have any trouble trusting him with anything or anyone. I am just a regular wonderful American who believes in equal rights and I wish the US did. You can probably check me out with the NSA. Mary”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “I have been a member of the group since it first formed and have found the founder, David Watters to be very friendly and caring.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “This campaign is a positive and uplifting effort we should all support! Thank you David!”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “David has promoted this organisation consistently for years, and he is fully committed to it. It supports those a little different for whatever reason and equality for all is vital. Well done David and good luck!!”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “This organisation has worked tirelessly to make vulnerable people in many walks of life feel loved, protected and cherished for who and what they are. It offers support to people when they’re sometimes at their very lowest point and full of despair and worry. The ‘Give them hope’ campaign aims to change those views by celebrating the wonderful rich diversity of this planet. I am a gay man, divorced with two grown up sons and still on the best of terms with my ex-wife who remains a close friend to this day. I have been very lucky to have been accepted for what and who I am by my family and friends-many many people aren’t so lucky and live a life of fear and remorse. The message this organisation gives so strongly is that they aren’t alone!”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “This is a strong campaign that has helped many people. Please honor this important initiative.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “David & his GiveEmHopeCampaign do just that for Kids and Adults alike about the Globe.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “Because they give hope to people”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “This is a very important organization that provides hope to young people. “

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “We All could use More Hope & Fath Eh ….. Keep UP the Excellent Work Eh xoxoxoxxo”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “This Campaign has been relentless in getting its message over. Mr David Watters has tirelessly kept the wheels turning on an ever expanding campaign. Let’s give him the appreciation he deserves his cause!!”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “I know how committed David is to this cause.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “It has given me hope to be who I want to be and who I am today:) nothing more needs to be said:)”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “Great Cause”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “Labels are limiting”

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – “Hope, a belief in a realistic, better outcome, is basic to human motivation, & can carry one through rough times.”

Sunday, May 18, 2014 – “David Watters is working tirelessly to bring this project to the widest possible audience in the widest possible range of media. Its focus on positivity, equality and justice, not negativity, separatism and point-scoring, is a highly effective strategy for disarming criticism and defusing prejudice. “

Sunday, May 18, 2014 – “David is the reason for my vote. Every day he brings hope and joy to each of us…we are stronger because of him”

Saturday, May 17, 2014 – “David Watters and the Give Em Hope campaign are there for young people – not only for LGBTQ, but ALL youngsters. And this campaign helps young people to feel better, more secure and prevents them from doing the worst thing … self-harm, or even worse: taking their own lives. This campaign should win, because 1 young person saved is great, but we need to help and save more!”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – “Due to the brilliant work brought to life by the Give ‘em Hope Campaign. Individuality is what makes life so great. David is an inspirational leader. The Give ‘em hope campaign helps encourage people to embrace and discover who they are, and what they can achieve.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – “I’m voting for the freedom to be human. David and his organization embody the universal inclination to love and be loved, no matter what the cost. That we deserve to live an authentic life filled with love, passion, for community and the desire to be a service to not only the lgbt community, but also the human community. That gets my vote every time. Simone Equality Campbell”

Sunday, May 4, 2014 – “They have done wonderful things online, reaching out to people who often need a listening ear that are in crisis.”

Friday, May 2, 2014 – “It’s a fantastic cause.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014 – “Strong support for young people at risk (LGBT statistics: 74% have suffered homophobic bullying, 25% have been physically assaulted, 50% school staff offer no support, 53% LGB have self-harmed, 76% T have self-harmed, 25% have attempted suicide, 81% suffer depression). Thanks to groups like this one to give these vulnerable young people some hope.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – “Hope is like dreams coming true. The Word: Hope is beautiful.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – “I Believe HOPE is Awesome and If every person would Give HOPE to at least One Person a day We May just Change someone’s life and They too will have HOPE .”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – “For rights that have been long overdue…..”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – “Give’em is truly a community…more like a family that offers support and encouragement and a safe place when your other family or people in your life reject you because who you are.”

Monday, April 28, 2014 – “diversity must be normally!!!”

Monday, April 28, 2014 – “We need many more organisations like the one you’ve created here. “

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – “it provides encouragement to trans-identified persons to live authentically.”

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – “Because the world needs this. “

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – “There is a basic need to provide hope to the LGBT community. The path many walk is very treacherous, painful, hurtful. Hope gives them glimmer of light that helps them navigate a easier path. This Organization does exactly that. “

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – “Because it is something I support. “

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – “Because hope is all it takes sometimes”

Friday, April 25, 2014 – “You only have to read the comments on this site to know the hope and encouragement it gives to so many people. It is a platform to express how they feel without being judged or ridiculed.”

Friday, April 25, 2014 – “What a passionate organisation fighting for what they believe in! Lead by a driven, eloquent person who never gives up. We need more advocates like this in our world to ‘give hope’ and to make us all keep on fighting. “

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – “Give Em Hope proves that there are people who care!”

Monday, April 21, 2014 – “it give’s ‘em hope!”

Monday, April 21, 2014 – “I have known of the Give ’em Hope Campaign since David Watters started this organization in 2011. David has inspired many people and encouraged them to not let labels define them. He is a positive force for those struggling with feeling limited by labels. He gives others hope and we need that in this crazy world of ours. My vote is for the Give’em Hope Campaign because of the reasons I stated above and more. I am also an LGBT ally and advocate. I feel this organization deserves recognition as it has helped so many people. Thank you. “

Saturday, April 19, 2014 – “Give Em Hope reaches out to all the “us-es,” as Harvey Milk would say. It offers an online home for people of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, disabilities…whoever you are is welcome, and acceptance saves lives.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014 – “Diversity is important to society, offering multiple approaches to problems.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – “David Watters and the Give ‘em Hope Campaign have been life lines for us as we have navigated becoming public. My spouse transitioned FtM 42 years ago and has been an ordained United Methodist Clergy for 32 of those years. We have needed and continue to need, the solidarity/interdependence and HOPE that this site has offered, as the powers that be would try to silence us. I am married to Rev. David E. Weekley: www.shermanswilderness.org Hope you give ‘em the award:)”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – “A great cause.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – “they do a great job”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – “I believe strongly in the purpose and approach of this group! “

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “The work that Give ‘em Hope does is vital to young people all over the world. David’s work can be seen and felt in every young person who finds the strength to live as they are. He is a mentor to many, and an inspiration to anyone who has ever met him.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “It’s just a great page that welcome’s you know judgments it gives you people who you can be yourself with >”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “This organisation is operating beyond borders and offering hope and inspiration to individuals all over the world. It offers a forum for those who may feel alone to get a sense of belonging without losing their individuality. It celebrates diversity in all its proclivities. I love that! “

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “does great work”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “I joined this group when it first began and have found it’s members to be really caring people, who will do whatever they can to help those who need help and search for and bring back whatever information they can find to help. (For more info on why I’m voting for this group, read David’s explanation of the group, below.) As interesting as some of the groups are, I find none of them to be as helpful as this one.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “I am voting because of the outstanding service that this organization contributes to the world as a whole. It would be a travesty if they did not get this recognition that they truly merit. “

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “This project is very inspirational to LGBT. The mass media don’t show enough positive role models, especially LGBT. It was therefore very apt and necessary that someone should go all out to film and collect the stories of those who have stood up for their right to love who they want in the face of adversity. The stories provide solace and identification to the LGBT who are still struggling with their sexuality and/or with the oppression around them.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “This is such a valuable organisation which is making a real difference both online and in the community. The resources online are powerful and save lives. Everyone needs a little hope and David Watters reaches out to some of those most isolated .”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – “A unique campaign which aims to eradicate limiting labels through the use of social media tools. The campaign all social media and has many strands to offer support and validation to anyone who may feel marginalised. An inspirational celebration of diversity. Real people sharing their stories…”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “Most social and hopeful community i know. Gives hope and the feeling, to be part of a family.”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “This is a great where people have wide open minds and great listeners. I feel safe every time I post comment or concern on Group. It welcomes everyone and forgives them. I do not know a lot of Campaign that are heart-warming and generous as they are. They help me find myself and understand sexuality and words that are unknown to me like transgender, transsexual, etc. I hope everyone who enters this campaign enjoys it as much as I do”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “Everybody needs hope for whatever reason . The Give em hope campaign does just that. It breaks down barriers and goes a long way to putting an end to negative labels. Since its early days it’s been an inspirational tool to many in all walks of life and continues to be”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “The Give ‘Em Hope Campaign does phenomenal work for marginalized populations. In today’s society, labels have power. They have the power to empower, but they also have the power to destroy. More often than not, it’s the negative side of labels that leads to tragic events like teen suicide and homelessness, and that is just not acceptable. To have a campaign in place to show these individuals that who they are is to be embraced and worthy of acceptance and acknowledgement means the possibility of saving lives. And as the great Mr. Milk said, “You gotta give them hope.” “

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “I have been a member of Give ‘em Hope ever since it started, and alot of people on here had done nothing but supported me on my decisions, and have love and accepted me for who I am. Despite my autism, anxiety, and a long medical and mental health history, this campaign has helped me strive for the best in life.”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “I really would like to help GIVE’EM HOPE. I have always like the word HOPE OR DREAMS.”

Monday, April 14, 2014 – “This campaign is well focused and should be supported by all. “

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – “The main reason I am voting is that this campaign needs more people to be aware of it. From its early days on YouTube, the campaign has been wonderful in giving people reassurance and support from real people with real stories. It’s so precious for the individuals involved who have shared their stories, and a source of guidance and reassurance for others who feel they are alone. The tireless work of David and his associates and their bravery in continuing to offer emotional ballast in stormy times is indispensable and needs the recognition it deserves.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – “This site shows love and concern for people from all walks of life. I believe this site saves lives.”

 

NDA logo

 

THE NATIONAL DIVERSITY AWARDS

The Hurlingham Club, London will play host to the prestigious black-tie event on September 26th, to honour the outstanding achievements of grass root communities nationwide.

 

Lloyds Banking group, which operates the UK’s largest retail bank, international accountants PwC, media giants Sky and Secret Service MI5 will be amongst sponsors backing the Best of British diversity at the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards.

 

TV personality Brian Dowling will return to host the ceremony alongside CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell. He said: ‘I am so excited! I have witnessed the awards go from strength to strength and I am always truly taken back by the humbling and uplifting stories of all the nominees and award winners.’

 

The awards have gained a mass of celebrity support from the likes of Stephen Fry, Brian Blessed and singing sensation Misha B.

 

Bafta award winning actor, Adam Deacon added his support ‘The National Diversity Awards exceed in bringing people from all walks of life together. Their ability to highlight positive role models and community organisations from underrepresented backgrounds is so necessary in the fight for social justice’.

 

Paralympic gold medallist Giles Long MBE commented, ‘As the country becomes ever more diverse it is important that difference is recognised, celebrated and embraced as the excitingly positive force for change that it is’.

 

Face Equality Campaigner, James Partridge OBE, ground breaking entrepreneur Jessica Huie and Grassroots breakaway group Birmingham LGBT were amongst last year’s Winners.

 

Paul Sesay, founder of the NDA’s said; The quality and quantity of nominees this year has been exceptional. I would like to wish all shortlisted nominees the very best of luck, and we look forward to meeting you on the night of the ceremony!’

 

Winners will be announced at The National Diversity Awards 2014.

 

NATIONAL DIVERSITY AWARDS:

Facebook: The Diversity Group

Twitter: @ndawards #NDA2014

 

GIVE ‘EM HOPE LINKS:

EMAIL: David E Watters DavidWatters@nbiassociates.co.uk

WEBSITE: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html

YOUTUBE:
http://www.youtube.com/user/NBIassociates?feature=mhee

WORDPRESS: https://neverblendin.wordpress.com/category/give-em-hope-campaign-nbi-associates/

THE “Give ‘em Hope” GROUP ON FACEBOOK:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/226577107352368

SISTER PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/GIVEemHOPE

Write your story or make and send your video to: DavidWatters@nbiassociates.co.uk


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