About Us

The Harvey Milk Festival features a variety of attractions including live music, film, performing and visual artists, speakers, and vendors designed to engage a large and diverse audience. Harvey Milk Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization and contributions are tax deductible.

Check out the interviews from festival goers to learn more about the event!

Who Is harvey Milk?

Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Politics and gay activism were not his early interests; he was not open about his homosexuality and did not participate in civic matters until around age 40, after his experiences in the counterculture of the 1960s.

Milk moved from New York City to settle in San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of gay men to the Castro District. He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote his interests, and ran unsuccessfully for political office three times. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity, and Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977, part of the broader social changes the city was experiencing.

Milk served 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned but wanted his job back. Milk’s election was made possible by and was a key component of a shift in San Francisco politics. The assassinations and the ensuing events were the result of continuing ideological conflicts in the city.

Despite his short career in politics, Milk became an icon in San Francisco and “a martyr for gay rights”, according to University of San Francisco professor Peter Novak. In 2002, Milk was called “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States”. Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: “What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.” Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.


source: wikipedia.org

WHat is THe Harvey Milk Festival?

   Our Mission:


               Harvey Milk Festival honors the legacy of Harvey Milk by fostering the arts as a catalyst for social and political change. 

                                                              OUR VISION:

By fostering emerging talent in musicians and artists who support diversity and reject discrimination. While we promote equality for LGBTQ people through supporting equal rights legislation.


   Our Programs:


Mid-May Arts Festival- Art, Theatre/Dance, Music

Fall- Fabulous Independent Film Festival

Outreach- Youth Scholarship Program, Panel discussions, and more

Performance Art + other events throughout the year.

We Are Harvey Milk


The Harvey Milk Festival is supported entirely by volunteers, sponsors, donations, advertising, and concessions. We are growing every day. Please get involved and become part of the movement.

Admission is free on Saturday. Donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.


Supporting Each Other


The Harvey Milk Festival supports the mission of ALSO Youth’s mission, to provide Advocacy, Leadership, Support, and Outreach to LGBTQIA youth and their allies.

That all persons live their lives with dignity, honesty, and pride, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.


For more information, visit www.ALSOYouth.org .

Board of Directors

Shannon Fortner

Shannon Fortner

Executive Director & Founder

Shannon has always felt a special connection with political icon Harvey Milk, who has inspired her activism in the human & civil rights movement, and driven her to use her passion in the arts as a catalyst for change in her hometown community of Sarasota. In 2009, Shannon organized The Equal Civil Rights Rally and began to fight for equality both on a state and federal level. One year later she founded The Harvey Milk Festival after California announced the declaration of Harvey Milk Day in April of 2010 to honor one of  our country’s first openly gay politicians. Shannon has built The Harvey Milk Festival from the ground up and continues to diligently expand the organization’s impact  and community involvement every year. As Creative Director and President, Shannon develops and manages, along with the HMF Board of Directors, every facet of the festival with grace and vigor.

Other Board Members

Andrew Ensign

Amanda Farrell, Secretary

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