This year's Harvey Milk Day promises to be even bigger and better than last year's kickoff, according to organizers.
But they're keeping a lid on things for now. Stuart Milk, Harvey's nephew, wouldn't say exactly what's up their sleeve but he did confirm that they're working on something. Milk's campaign manager has returned to organize the local festivities.
Organizers hope to see a "major" event in San Francisco. Last year, the festivities fizzled somewhat due to last-minute planning. A planned awards ceremony and party were canceled just days in advance.
Nevertheless, a large crowd gathered in the Castro to witness the laying of a historic marker.
The plans for this year's celebration come at a time when new laws will begin protecting LGBT Californians. Among them are a bill that allows at-risk youth to access services without having to reveal their sexuality to their parents. Many communities have suffered an epidemic of homeless teenagers who were thrown out of the house after their parents learned that they were LGBT.
Another bill would extend unemployment benefits to same-sex couples. Currently, straight couples are eligible for benefits that gay couples are not. Despite a legal requirement that domestic partnerships receive the same legal protections as marriage, every year a few loopholes turn up that need to be patched. It's because of those loopholes and disparities, gay-marriage observers say, that domestic partnerships are no substitute for real legal marriage equality.
In 2011, lawmakers hope to enact anti-bullying legislation, protections for LGBT prisoners, and assurances that religious leaders won't be persecuted for refusing to marry gay couples.
Harvey Milk Day is May 22, 2011.