All Aboard for Inclusion: The USNS Harvey Milk Sets Sail

Written by | The Lens

A freight train careens uncontrollably down the incline. A damsel in distress struggles futilely to unlash herself from the tracks. A nefarious villain twirls his mustache, watching the proceedings with a repulsive expression of glee.

You can picture the formulaic scenario above with crystal clarity, but one key element is missing: the hero.

Where would we be without our defenders? Answer: we would be stuck on those rickety train tracks, frantically pondering why our knight in shining armor has forsaken us.

But true heroes do more than swoop in at the last minute in a flurry of glory and gusto. Real life champions work to protect us from the evils of the world before they threaten our lives. They are the immigrants who laid the tracks, the public servants who ensured their stability, and the society that castigated the mustache-twirling meanie before the situation became too dire.

In short: heroism = Harvey.

Harvey Milk worked tirelessly to carve out the ultimate safe space for the queer community. Under his leadership, the Castro in San Francisco became the epicenter for expression, flourishing with gay liberation so vibrant that it still beckons LGBTQ individuals to its warming rainbow embrace.

But Harvey’s selfless service was tragically cut short. He was assassinated by a coward and mourned by a devastated city.

Before Harvey became a city supervisor, he served with the U.S. Navy. He was drummed out of the military due to his orientation, thus delaying his march toward eventual legend status.

The damsel in distress would need to writhe on the train tracks for a few decades more.

But the Navy just recognized their considerable infraction; they recently named a vessel for the gay rights icon. The USNS Harvey Milk launched its inaugural mission out of San Diego, and naval secretary Carlos Del Toro was proudly in attendance.

“For far too long, sailors like Lt. Milk were forced into the shadows or, worse yet, forced out of our beloved Navy,” Del Toro tells the Associated Press. “That injustice is part of our Navy history, but so is the perseverance of all who continue to serve in the face of injustice.”

The christening of one ship can never erase the homophobia of the past, but it might just pave the way for future heroes. That menacing train is still rumbling forward… who will save us? Whoever it is, they have Harvey Milk to thank for clearing their path.

Photo: YouTube @The San Diego Union-Tribune


Last modified: November 11, 2021