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Portland becomes the third city in U.S. to get a Harvey Milk Street

Portland now becomes third city to get a Harvey Milk Street.
Photo credit:
Nicole Murrary-Ramirez

City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez has been busy this month on his mission of advocacy for cities to re-name one of their streets in honor of gay politician and civil rights activist Harvey Milk.

He went to Salt Lake City earlier this month to dedicate their thoroughfare after the icon and this week he traveled north to Portland as San Diego’s LGBT ambassador to encourage the myor and city council to vote in favor of their own.

He was joined by Stuart Milk, Harvey's nephew, and former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts in the official presentation. They gave opening speeches before the vote which resulted in Portland becoming only the third state in America to have a street with this unique distinction.

"San Diego LGBT community should be proud that not only do we have the first Harvey Milk Street in the nation but we also launched the successful national letter-writing campaigns with the Imperial Court chapters that resulted in a Milk postage stamp and the naming of a Harvey Milk Naval vessel," stated City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez. "I am also so proud of my good friend Terry Bean who organized and led the successful Portland campaign."

Terry Bean is a prominent gay leader and business owner in Portland he is also the co-founder of Victory Fund and the HRC. He and Murray-Ramirez have been friends for several decades. Bean got the idea for the street when he visited San Diego with Roberts for four years ago, "Why can't we do something like that in Portland?" he remembers asking Roberts when they visited the Hillcrest site. 

Bean talked to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News about how he thinks having this landmark will help out the community. 

"It will affect the young people giving them a sense of pride that maybe their lives are going to be okay. I started working on it about two years ago," said Bean. "I got all the businesses on the street to agree to it over the course of a year and then after that, we took it to the city council with the LGBT groups and it went through pretty quickly." 

Bean says he worked hard at getting the 3,000 signatures needed, but it was all worth it and he would eventually like to campaign for other cities to get Harvey Milk streets of their own. The placement of Harvey Milk Street in Portland has significance he says. 

"The street is thirteen blocks right in downtown Portland, it was kind of the center of all of the LGBT activity in the 70's 80's and 90's, it was a place where we felt safe," Bean adds that things are much better for the LGBT population in Portland these days, "But there are still kids growing up in Evangelical households and right-wing Republican households that are afraid to go to sleep at night for fear they might talk in their sleep, and somebody might find out. So I think it's very important to have those icons and role models that say 'my city accepts me.'"

Back in 2012, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to rename a stretch of Blaine Avenue near the San Diego LGBT Center to Harvey Milk Street. It has become a popular selfie destination for tourists.