- It doesn't take an "elite" to make change happen - Milk was a everyday guy, with a regular education, with a regular job and went through the same ups and downs in relationships and with family as most people. However, he had the backbone to do something when he saw wrong happening in his neighborhood, his city and his nation. That "wrong" was the way gay Americans are treated by their fellow citizens and by the government - denying them the same basic rights against discrimination among other things.
- The right thing to do for one group is the right thing to do for everyone - Milk's message became broad. While he plainly said his political efforts were primarily focused on gay rights, he also acknowledged that it became more than that. Society has discriminated and dis-empowered gays, but it has also done so to minorities, the unemployed, the poor, seniors and others. In the end, Milk was carrying the banner for these other under-represented groups and said so. To me, this was very appealing aspect of his character and how his political ideas evolved.
- Relevance - Broadly speaking, important change takes time and typically involves struggles requiring inspiring leaders. The issue of gay rights, and human rights really, has just as much relevance today across the country as they did in the 1970s. Think of all the state initiatives to ban equal rights (employment, housing, benefits, military service, etc.) for gays or to establish them, to ban marriage for gays or to recognize, that come up every election cycle. And, think about how much debate, heat, hate and love those contests bring to the surface...including the best recent example of Prop 8 in California. So, Milk's fight goes on today.
Sadly, Harvey Milk is no longer with us. For those of you who have not seen the movie or heard of Milk before, I won't spoil why that is for you because I think learning this fact on your own is important...offering up further evidence of how difficult it can be to make change in the U.S.A. and the lengths some will go to try and stop it.