Happy Birthday Harvey Milk

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    Students gathered at Kresge college on  Saturday afternoon to celebrate PRIDE. Photo by Morgan Grana.
    Students gathered at Kresge College on Saturday afternoon to celebrate PRIDE. Photo by Morgan Grana.

    Kresge College presented PRIDE, a festival celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) identities and their allies, on Saturday, May 22. The event coincided with California’s first Harvey Milk Day, which was made official in October 2009 after Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill dedicating the day to Milk’s honor.

    “Today, we celebrate the legacy of a pioneer and, unfortunately, a martyr for gay rights — Harvey Milk,” said Jesse Bernal, the first openly gay student regent, in his keynote speech at the event.

    The rainbow-clad crowd packed into lower Kresge listened intently as Bernal, who traveled up from Santa Barbara for the event, spoke about the recent acts of racism and homophobia at the UC before ending on a determinedly optimistic note.

    “My expectation is when you look back on these years … you will see a time in which we finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and woman,” Bernal said.

    A horde of volunteers decked out in red PRIDE T-shirts worked to make Kresge into the space that Bernal envisioned. Armed with handmade signs, volunteers Kameron Myles and Angie Wootton went to “queer” the nearby bathrooms.

    “In the spirit of PRIDE and queering gender and making a space for people who don’t fit into the gender binary, we’re putting up gender neutral signs so that anyone can use any bathroom,” said Wootton, a second-year Kresge student. Wootton also tabled for Delta Lambda Psi, UCSC’s queer coed “frarority.”

    The frarority was just one of several groups that supported the event. Safe sex supplies and information abounded between the Condom Co-Op and Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP).

    After the speech, a number of acts went on to perform beneath a rainbow balloon arch. Acquire Acapella sang a crowd-pleasing version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Delta Lambda Phi put on a drag show involving a boy scout uniform, shaved legs, and tight fitting dresses that left little to the imagination.

    “Someone yelled ‘Beeeeaver!’ out of a bus at me,” said Justine Beaver,* speaking of the recent fame her act, which she performed with Luda Christine* at PRIDE, has brought her.

    “I have a blast, I love looking fabulous,” said Jeff,* who performed the Spice Girls’ hit “Spice World.”

    The event was not limited to Kresge students. Students kicked off the event at noon, snaking their way around the UCSC campus, bringing visibility and picking up supporters at each college. At Oakes, a car drove donuts around the entrance to the college while pounding dance music and flying rainbow sheets from its roof. Students making buttons and carrying banners shouted their appreciation.

    Once PRIDE had gotten well under way, students and staff joined together to sing “Happy Birthday” to Harvey Milk on what would have been his 80th birthday.

    It was a birthday party he would not have wanted to miss.

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    *Names have been changed.