'Jewish Gay Agnostic Hero' Portrayed As Saint
July 7, 2008
(CNSNews.com) - San Francisco's new Museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History is offering a "saintly" tribute to the late Harvey Milk -- the first openly homosexual man to hold elective office in a major American city.
The exhibit dedicated to Milk is called, "Saint Harvey: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Gay Martyr." According to the museum's website, the exhibit documents Milk's "life as well as his afterlife in our cultural consciousness."
The exhibit includes a portrait in which Milk is shown with a halo behind his head, holding a lit candle.
William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, says he finds it a "backhanded tribute" to Roman Catholicism that homosexual activists "would choose to honor their slain Jewish, homosexual, agnostic martyr by cribbing from the Catholic iconography."
Donohue says the homosexual activist movement -- "bereft of sacred imagery" -- is turning to Catholicism for help, but that's okay with him.
"Hopefully, those involved in this tribute will now look more closely at what Catholicism has to offer in other areas as well," Donohue said in a press release.
In 1978, one year after his election to the Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk was shot and killed along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by Milk's fellow council member, Dan White.
White, furious about the enactment of a homosexual civil rights bill, had just resigned his council seat.
At his trial, he invoked the infamous "twinkie defense," claiming he wasn't responsible for his actions because he had eaten a lot of junk food the day he shot Milk and Moscone.
White was convicted on two counts of voluntary manslaughter and served six years of a seven-year prison sentence. He committed suicide after getting out of prison.
"When Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 no one would have imagined that less than a year later, an assassin's bullet would transform him into a modern-day martyr for the gay liberation movement," the GLBT museum website says.
As part of the Milk exhibit, museum visitors will view "rarely seen artifacts from the estate of Harvey Milk, including the clothes Milk wore at the time of his assassination."
"Saint Harvey" is the inaugural exhibit of the Museum of GLBT History, a project of the GLBT Historical Society. It runs from June 6 through April 2004.