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:

We promote equality for LGBTQ people by fostering emerging artistic talent and supporting equal rights legislation.


Our Youth OUtreach Program


The HMF Youth Outreach program provides the opportunity to get youth more involved with the organization. The HMF Youth Outreach Program began in 2014 with the launch of our youth scholarship program.
This opportunity is open to all LGBTQ+ students in Sarasota County between the ages of 13 and 25.

Youth internship positions for graphic design, videography, community outreach, and nonprofit development.

Two internships and two scholarships are available per year.
Scholarship one, $500- 1,000
Scholarship two, $500- $1,000
Internship one, award of $500-$1000
Internship two, award $500-$1000

Applications will be released six months prior to the main festival and submissions will be
accepted until three months prior to the festival. Programming will run throughout the year and
culminate in Harvey Milk Festival programming in May.

This project directly impacts the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth by
offering preparedness for college through fellowship and community service experience.
The most significant benefit to participants in the HMF Youth Outreach Program is the
encouragement and financial support that youth are given to continue their education. The
program provides a creative outlet for LGBTQ+ youth to cultivate their artistic process and
connect with others in the community.Many of our youth have experienced alienation and
discrimination from family, friends and schoolmates and lack the essential network of support
they need when they are in school.

The HMF Scholarship and HMF Internship programs offer
participating youth opportunities to connect with the LGBTQ+ community through their work,
receive feedback from youth, artists, mentors and allies, and further their professional
development with support and encouragement from their community.

For further inquiry, contact info@harveymilkfestival.org


Supporting Each Other


The Harvey Milk Festival supports the mission of ALSO Youth, 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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