Shannon Fortner, Harvey Milk Festival Founder/Executive Director

By : Grace Korley, Harvey Milk Festival Internship Supervisor/Grant Writer and Shannon's Partner
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Selfless. Focused. Resilient. Remarkable. These are the words that describe Shannon Fortner.

Shannon is the founder and president of the Harvey Milk Festival (HMF), a Sarasota nonprofit dedicated to sharing the power of the arts as a catalyst for social and political change. It celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, consisting of a history and art component, performance art and dance, and culminating with its annual music festival.

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Cole Foust, Metro Inclusive Health LGBTQ+ Division Manager

By : Hannah Powell, Metro Inclusive Health LGBTQ+ Program Specialist
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Step into the Metro LGBTQ Welcome Center in St. Petersburg or take a stroll down Central Avenue, and chances are you’ll see a powerful message delivered on shirts and stickers bearing the signature FOUST logo: “Love is my philosophy.” If you live in Tampa Bay, I can guarantee that the love, empathy and leadership of Cole Foust has touched your life somehow.

Cole is an activist, community organizer, artist, musician and an incredible friend and coworker. When I think of him, I recall the Harvey Milk quote: “If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of human activities – the expression of love – then life itself loses meaning.”

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Construction begins on US Navy ship named for Harvey Milk

By : John Paul King OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Harvey Milk, photo courtesy SF Public Library.

The USNS Harvey Milk is a ship whose time has finally come.

Construction on the ship, a fleet oiler named for the slain LGBTQ icon, began Friday at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. It will be the second ship in the new John Lewis class of fleet oilers, which are ships used to replenish fuel oil and dry goods to Navy ships at sea. The future John Lewis, named for the late civil rights leader and congressman, is also being built at the San Diego shipyard.

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Harvey Milk Festival holds 10th annual celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | The Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will hold its 10th annual celebration May 9-11, honoring the life and legacy of activist Harvey Milk by fostering the arts as a catalyst for change.

“It feels comforting,” founder and HMF Executive Director Shannon Fortner says of entering the festival’s 10th year. “I feel proud of our community that we’re able to sustain festivities.”

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The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida celebrates 40 years with a Studio 54-inspired party

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida has undergone several name and location changes in its 40-year history, but the mission has always remained the same.

“The focus since the beginning was always advocacy, making sure there was a voice for the community and socialization,” says George Wallace, The Center’s current executive director.

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LGBT History Project: Archive documents late SF mayor Moscone’s close LGBT ties

By : Matthew S. Bajko, Special to Watermark from the LGBT History Project
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ABOVE: A photographer from the Associated Press in 1977 captured this iconic image of Supervisor Harvey Milk, left, and Mayor George Moscone inside San Francisco City Hall. Photo: Courtesy of Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

In June 1977 an irate San Francisco resident mailed off a letter to then-mayor George Moscone. The focus of his ire was the planned Pride celebration at the end of the month.

He complained that his relatives were likely to cancel their visit to the city after hearing on their local news about the “faggot (they say ‘gay’) festival AKA orgy” to be held in the city. In permitting the event, the letter writer asked Moscone, “Why do you buckle to the fag desires, other than VOTES?”

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No proclamation (again) from Trump for Pride month

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The first day of June has arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

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Stoli Vodka releases Harvey Milk Limited Edition bottle

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Stoli Vodka has released a limited edition Harvey Milk bottle.

“The Harvey Milk Limited Edition Bottle continues Stoli’s 25-year history supporting the LGBTQ community and commemorates the 40th anniversary of Milk taking office in 1978 as the first openly gay elected official in California,” the company said in a statement.

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Fit for Print: History isn’t always pretty, or straight

By : Steve Blanchard
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I am a history nerd.

I love visiting historical places, reading up on history and even enjoying a book or film classified as historical fiction.

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Comedian Margaret Cho on her new tour, bi-erasure and our LGBTQ family

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“Everything about my life is intimately connected in gay history,” superstar comedian Margaret Cho says. “It’s my community; it’s where I live, where I grew up, who I am, all my friends, all my family.”

That’s been evident in Cho’s decades-long career, beginning with her stand-up in San Francisco near the gay bookstore her parents owned. It continues today with her accolades as a performer, in which her comedic takes on LGBTQ rights, sexuality, bullying and politics have led to five Grammy nominations, an Emmy nomination and being named one of Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics in 2017.

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Supporters trying to rename Portland street For Harvey Milk

By : wire report
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — When the movie “Milk” reached theaters in the West African country of Togo a few years ago, Jean Pierre Nugloze made sure to go.

Though several decades and continents apart, the story of slain San Francisco activist Harvey Milk, as played by actor Sean Penn, felt very personal. Nugloze was openly gay in a country where homosexuality remains illegal.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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