May 22 marked what would have been slain gay rights leader and former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk’s 84th birthday, known as “Milk Day.” It was also the day that the United States Postal Service released a stamp commemorating Milk’s work, making it the first of an openly gay American politician.
Dustin Lance Black, who wrote and won an Oscar for the 2008 film Milk starring Sean Penn, was also among the crowd of eager stamp enthusiasts who lined up to buy the first-day cover, according to the San Francisco Examiner. For many, including Milk’s former partner (and gay rights activist in his own right) Cleve Jones, who was also present at the post office, the stamp serves as a “huge validation” and affirmation of all that Milk and the gay-rights movement represent, writes the Examiner.
Crowds lined up in San Francisco’s Castro district at the same post office Milk used to frequent himself. Within three hours, nearly all of the post offices 6,500 Harvey Milk stamps had been sold out.
A Castro post office worker said the only other time there was so much attention surrounding a new stamp was with the release of the Elvis Presley stamp.
The stamps are available in sheets of 20 and feature a picture of Harvey Milk smiling in a photograph that was taken of him by Daniel Nicoletta in 1977, the Examiner notes.
Milk was shot to death at City Hall on November 27, 1978 along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by a former city supervisor, Dan White, who was convicted of manslaughter and who served five years of his seven-year prison sentence before committing suicide.