Little Ryland shines in an emotional Harvey Milk Diversity BreakfastOnline Only, Top Highlights, Around the City Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the legacy of Harvey Milk; that’s about love and family and hope and change …” so said Robert Gleason at the conclusion of the presentation of the Inspiration Award to the Whittington family at today’s emotionally charged Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast at the Bayfront Hilton.
There was hardly a dry eye in the 1,000 strong audience as Jeff and Hillary Whittington presented a video of the background and transition of their son Ryland.
“One of the most inspiring things that Harvey Milk had done as far as our family is concerned,” said Jeff Whittington, “was to encourage people to come out; to let their voices be heard; break down the walls, break down the barriers and start allowing people to see them for their authentic selves and be true to themselves, and this is our coming out … this is us making our voices heard …”
The sixth annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast which coincided with the unveiling at the White House of the postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk began with the presentation of the Colors by the San Diego Naval Base Color Guard followed by the national anthem performed by members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus.
The Rev. Henry Rodriguez gave the invocation and in an interesting and enlightening turn the Old Globe performed six poems constructed from the words of Harvey Milk.
Robert Gleason, chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and co-chair of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast Planning Committee, together with Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO of The Center gave the welcome and introductions. Gleason made apologies for one particular absentee – his co-chair on the planning committee – Nicole Murray Ramirez, as he was in Washington, D.C. at the Harvey Milk postage stamp unveiling.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a spirited speech and in praising Murray Ramirez couldn’t resist the playful comment, “… I think President Obama has no idea what he’s in for today … think of the visual, people … Nicole running around the White House…”
City Council President Todd Gloria introduced Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as the recipient of the Harvey Milk Equality Award. Atkins’ speech, punctuated by repeated applause kept the audience riveted. In accepting the award Atkins said, “I am really honored … but I have to say, and I think you know this …this award is not mine alone. As we heard people speak this morning we talk about what it is … it is testament to all of you who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this point in history and to all the pioneers on whose shoulders we have stood; people like Harvey Milk, whose enduring contribution to the LGBT community and the pursuit of freedom in our nation will be recognized today with the issue of the Harvey Milk stamp.”
The Harvey Milk/ Nicole Murray Ramirez GLBT Student Scholarships were awarded by Mario Ortega of The Imperial Court de San Diego to Gilberto Mercado and Amber Jameli Meza Escobar.
Richard Barrera, secretary-treasurer/CEO, San Diego and Imperial County Labor Council presented the Harvey Milk Youth Essay Award to Citlalli Aquino who read her essay to an enthusiastic crowd.
The final presentation to the Whittington family was made by Mattheus Stephens, president, San Diego Civil Service Commission.
Rev. Dan Koeshall gave a “fabulous” benediction and the event closed out appropriately with John Lennon’s “Imagine” sung by the San Diego’s Women’s Chorus.
A truly breathtaking morning that left this appreciative and diverse audience motivated and inspired and looking forward to next year’s event.
Happy Birthday Harvey.
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