A rebirth, a revival, a renewal
Conversations with Nicole
Nicole Murray Ramirez
(Editor’s note: On Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, Nicole Murray Ramirez spoke at a vigil at San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza, on the 45th anniversary of the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Below is a printed copy of Nicole’s speech from the vigil.)
Good evening, mi comadres y compadres.
First, I would also like to acknowledge that this is Native American Heritage Month and that we stand on sacred Native land and give our love and respect to them for honoring us, as two-spirited people since before so-called “explorers” stole their land.
I bring you greetings from San Diego and our 37th elected Mayor Todd Gloria, our city’s first mayor of color and mayor from the LGBTQ community.
San Diego is also the home of the largest military complex in the Western Hemisphere. We are proud that Harvey was stationed in San Diego in the 1950s. He was a Navy Commander (sic) but was witch-hunted out of the Navy after being interrogated and mercilessly harassed and threatened for three days.
Would our veterans and active-duty military people with us tonight please raise their hands so we can acknowledge your service to our country?
You know, I met Harvey Milk in the early 1970s in a Polk Street bar named Kimos. Empress 1 Jose introduced me to him and informed me that he was running for Supervisor, just like Jose did in 1961. Well, standing in front of me was this hippie guy with a ponytail and I, then a pre-operative transsexual in a mini skirt and go-go boots, had the nerve to tell him he needed to cut his hair if he was going to win. We became friends, especially after finding out that in 1964 we both were Republicans and voted for Barry Goldwater for president.
I worked with Harvey Milk and other activists across the state when we fought off the Briggs Initiative that would have fired all LGBTQ teachers in California. What I loved about Harvey was his sense of humor.
Last time I spoke at a San Francisco rally was last April at the “Drag Up! Fight Back” drag/transgender rally and march. A shout out to Junita More and Sister Roma. The night before the rally, I channeled in Jose and asked her for advice on what I should say. And so, last night, I channeled my old girlfriend Harvey and you know what he told me??? “You in danger, girl!”
And he is right. I come from the 1950s and ’60s and we are now facing the return of the Joe McCarthy, Anita Bryant, and Jerry Falwell days. We are all indeed in danger.
As I said to you all last April, our message to America is … read my silicone/Botox lips: “We are never ever going back into those damn dark closets.” For in 2024, it will be: “Out of the closets and into the voting booths.”
Harvey Milk was a visionary of his times and one of the first gay leaders to reach out and support and build bridges to other communities and causes.
As a Latino who grew up being called not only a queer and faggot, but a wetback, spick, and greaser, I will never forget Harvey’s support of Cesar Chavez and the Mexican and Filipino farm workers and of the Grape Boycott.
This year, the Human Rights Campaign declared a “State of Emergency” for LGBTQ Americans. Well, I say in 2024, we must declare a “State of War” for our LGBTQ community as a cultural war has indeed been declared on us for the upcoming 2024 elections. And, they are out to erase our transgender community … and then all of us.
Today, in San Francisco, I, the Queen Mother of the Americas, call upon our LGBTQ+ community to declare 2024 the year of the LGBTQ Renaissance. A rebirth! A revival! A renewal! … of LGBTQA+ activism, organizing, and voting.
A year where we will focus on building bridges and support for other communities and causes.
In solidarity for a woman’s right to control her own body.
In solidarity with the Black community and stopping the suppression of their vote and erasing their history.
In solidarity against the rise of hate crimes against the Asian Pacific Islander communities.
In solidarity with Labor, unions and working families.
In solidarity with all immigrants, undocumented and my Latino community. For listen up California, because the Gold State is turning brown.
In solidarity for gun control and changing our criminal justice system.
In solidarity against the rise of hate against the Jewish community and yes, against the Muslim community.
These causes must be all of our causes.
This is an LGBTQA+ renaissance I know Harvey Milk would want us to have. And most importantly, to make our LGBTQA+ youth and students a priority as they are coming out in record numbers like never before.
Let us stop saying that our youth are our future. Our youth are our here and now. And we need to support them now more than ever.
In closing, I want to acknowledge the legacy of Mayor George Moscone and thank his family for continuing his legacy by his children’s continuing involvement in equality for all.
I want to also take this time to thank you San Francisco for giving us the first LGBTQ band in America, the first gay men’s chorus, the first Imperial Court chapter in North America, the first LGBTQ business association, the first Gay Games, the first Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and the Names Quilt.
And I ask you all to support our national Bayard Rustin U.S. stamp campaign just like you supported our successful Harvey Milk stamp campaign. And do check out the movie “Rustin” now showing on Netflix.
And I want to personally thank you San Francisco for not only giving us Harvey Milk and George Moscone but also Mark Leno, Milton Marks, Jim Hormel, Bevan Dufty, Sylvester, Honey Mahogany, Bob Ross, Ann Koeberg, Del Martin and Phyliss Lyon, Carole Migden, Roberta Achtenberg, Cleve Jones and future Congressman Scott Weiner.
And I urge you all to support LGBTQA+ candidates across the state and am urging the President of the State Senate Toni Atkins to become a candidate as our next governor.
And now I have the honor of reading a message from Harvey’s nephew, who indeed has become a global advocate giving hope to countless LGBTQQ+ people around the world, Stuart Milk:
“There are moments in the world where our collective destiny has been decided. 45 years ago today, I lost Uncle Harvey to a brutal assassination that he knew was likely to occur; and Harvey’s election, his 11 months in office, defeat of the discriminatory Prop 6, and his historic call for us all to join him in being authentic, out, and proud, was such a moment. That brutal assassination of both Harvey and George on Nov. 27, 1978, became one of those moments that would symbolize the character and future of human progress and social justice. A moment of history when a torch is passed like Seneca Falls, like Selma, like Stonewall — and Harvey’s prophetic message, ‘let the bullets that enter my brain destroy all closet doors’ sent an example across the world, that we will no longer remain invisible.”
Thank you, Stuart, for continuing the legacy of your beloved uncle.
I leave you all with these words:
“A community, indeed a movement, that does not know where it came from and whose shoulders it stands on … does not really know where it’s going.”
Thank you Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club for reminding us tonight whose shoulders we stand on. God bless you all.–Nicole Murray Ramirez is a lifelong Latino and LGBT activist and advocate, a longtime city commissioner, and is the Queen Mother of the International Imperial Court of the Americas. He can be reached at [email protected].
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