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Celebrating Milk: Queer History

The second annual Harvey Milk History Week was held from Monday, May 16 to Friday, May 2 to honor great moments in queer history and spread awareness about historical events that have affected the LBGT community. The event was hosted by UCI LBGT Resource Center and LBGT Staff/Faculty Network.

“The purpose of the week is to educate people on what queer history is and how it has affected the current LBGT people,” said Genice Sarcedo, program coordinator at the LBGT Resource Center. “The most common response we get from people is ‘Wow we never knew that,’ so I think showing people what their history is is important.”

The week coincides with the birthday of San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California in 1977.

Last year, Harvey Milk History Week at UCI consisted of tabling on Ring Road with a history display. This year the program grew to also include two night events, including a live performance and documentary screening.

Performer Ian MacKinnon provided a comedic look at LBGT historical figures in a one-man show called “Gay Hist-ORGY” on Tuesday. MacKinnon  humorously addressed, or “cruised” as he calls it,  historical gay icons including Herman Melville, Walt Whitman and Plato. MacKinnon calls his historical journey “informative, fabulous and fun.” MacKinnon is an LA-based performance artist, who curates and performs gay-centered art.

The documentary “Times of Harvey Milk” was screened on Thursday, May 19. The film provides a chronicle of the career of Harvey Milk and a snapshot of the gay movement in the 1970s.

Sunday, May 22 was the state’s second annual Harvey Milk Day, on which Milk would have been age 81.

“Queer history is anything that impacts LBGT movement, whether it’s distinctly LBGT or not,” Sarcedo said.

In the coming weeks, the LBGT Resource Center will also hold its 16th annual End of the Year Banquet, recognizing achievements of LGBTQA students and allies. The event will include Lavender Graduation, where graduating seniors will receive a rainbow tassel.