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Honor society: California now has a day set aside to remember Harvey milk, who joins the ranks of other honored gays.

IT TOOK AN OSCAR for California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to change his mind about Harvey Milk (and it wasn't for one of Arnold's movies). After vetoing an effort last year to reward the slain gay rights leader with his own day, Schwarzenegger changed course in October and signed a bill designating Milk's May 22 birthday as a day of "special significance." The governor indicated that Gus Van Sant's acclaimed 2008 biopic Milk brought widespread attention and elevated the San Francisco supervisor to a stature worthy of statewide observance.

Joining Milk for his day in the civic sun are these gay heroes:

Natalie Clifford Barney

A dedication ceremony was held October 25 in Cooper Park in Dayton, Ohio, for a new historical marker honoring the achievements of hometown girl Barney. This feminist writer was a proud lesbian-often immortalizing her sapphic affairs in print-and was the inspiration for a character in Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness.

Mary York

As president of Chicago's Lesbian Community Care Project board of directors and an attorney who often took on the cases of gay clients, Mary York was a beloved figure in Chicago. When she died of cancer in January 2008, a peace garden at the Howard Brown Health Center was dedicated to her and fellow lesbian health advocate Lisa Tonna--a statue that held some of York's ashes was later added to the garden. The 100-pound sculpture was stolen from the garden in June, only to be mysteriously returned two weeks later.

Walt Whitman

It was a bizarre scene in Russia's capital on October 14 when a statue of the gay American poet was unveiled at Moscow State University, with both Hillary Clinton and homophobic Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov in attendance. Luzhkov praised Whitman at the ceremony, even though the politician refuses to allow gay pride parades in his city and refers to gay people as "satanic."

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Title Annotation:ADVANCE: News
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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