Terry Bean’s vision of a Harvey Milk street in Portland became reality on June 14th, 2018 when the Portland City Council voted unanimously to rename a 13-block stretch of Stark from Naito Parkway to Burnside after Milk. One of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, Milk was assassinated in 1978.
Terry was there in the early days of the gay rights movement too. Co-founder of HRC and the Victory Fund, Terry has devoted his life to creating a world where members of the LGBT can feel safe, honored and accepted. When he visited San Diego Hillcrest site with Governor Barbara Roberts four years ago, he asked her, “Why can’t we do something like that in Portland?”
Never one to stop with a question, Terry organized the Harvey Milk Street Project to rename Southwest Stark Street to Harvey Milk Street. 3,000 signatures later Portland OR now has a Harvey Milk Street which serves a daily reminder to all Portlanders of the legacy of one of the country’s most-influential civil rights leaders.
“San Diego LGBT community should be proud that not only do we have the first Harvey Milk Street in the nation but we also launched the successful national letter-writing campaigns with the Imperial Court chapters that resulted in a Milk postage stamp and the naming of a Harvey Milk Naval vessel…I am also so proud of my good friend Terry Bean who organized and led the successful Portland campaign.” – San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez
The San Digeo Gay and Lesbian News cited Terry on the importance of honoring Harvey Milk in Portland, Oregon:
“It will affect the young people giving them a sense of pride that maybe their lives are going to be okay. I started working on it about two years ago,” said Bean. “I got all the businesses on the street to agree to it over the course of a year and then after that, we took it to the city council with the LGBT groups and it went through pretty quickly.”
“The street is thirteen blocks right in downtown Portland, it was kind of the center of all of the LGBT activity in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, it was a place where we felt safe,” Bean adds that things are much better for the LGBT population in Portland these days, “But there are still kids growing up in Evangelical households and right-wing Republican households that are afraid to go to sleep at night for fear they might talk in their sleep, and somebody might find out. So I think it’s very important to have those icons and role models that say ‘my city accepts me.'”
Harvey Milk, I think, is one of the most inspirational people not just to the LGTBQ-plus community, but to the nation as a whole. It sends a signal that we are an open and welcoming and inclusive community. – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler
Terry wrote on Facebook:
Five years ago, I stood beneath the nation’s first Harvey Milk Street sign in San Diego, full of pride & inspired to bring this lasting symbol of hope & acknowledgement to Portland as well. Yesterday, surrounded by friends & allies from many walks of life, Portland City Council unanimously voted to create Harvey Milk Street in my beloved Portland.
I am thrilled to live in a city that honors & celebrates its LGBTQ residents. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the remarkable Harvey Milk Street Project coalition & everyone else who helped make this a reality…HAPPY PRIDE!
PS We have developed a great template to do this in other cities – if you know others that want help accomplishing this, contact me!
PPS Stay tuned, we want input on how to further develop these 13 blocks to honor our LGBTQ history & heroes locally!