In honor of Pride Month, UNT Special Collections is sharing previously unseen footage of LGBT civil rights activist Harvey Milk during an appearance in Dallas. On June 10, 1978, 40 years ago this week, the Texas Gay Conference V was in full swing at the Royal Coach Inn near Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Under the theme of “Setting Sites on Human Rights,” the conference invited several gay civil rights activists. Among them was the newly elected member of San Francisco City Board of Supervisors, and first openly gay elected official in the entire state of California, Harvey Milk.
UNT Special Collections recently sent 2,000 UMatic tapes from our NBC 5/KXAS Television News collection for digitization. As we sort through the 50,000+ digital news clips that will come back, we may not always immediately catch the gems we have preserved. Fortuitously, Morgan Gieringer, head of Special Collections, recognized Harvey’s familiar face even though he is not named on air. Even more incredibly, Morgan discovered the video exactly 40 years to the day it was recorded! What are the odds?
The first clip is the packaged segment by reporter Noah Nelson, featuring an interview with Milk and Rev. Larry Hemp about LGBTQ+ youth, their future and hardships, and the second clip is the b-roll footage, or outtakes, from that segment. The b-roll footage has an extended portion of the Harvey Milk interview in which he says that he wants young gay people “to have hope, and know that they can become doctors and lawyers,” and with playful self-deprecation adds, “and politicians… God forbid.” Five months later, on November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk was assassinated by fellow city supervisor Dan White in San Francisco, California.
The Texas Gay Conference V is further documented in UNT Special Collections’ LGBT Collection archives. The personal papers of Steve Wilkins, founding member of the Dallas Gay Political Caucus and co-chair of the Texas Gay Conference V, are housed within the Resource Center LGBT Collection.
Prior to his assassination on November 18, Milk discerned that he might be killed and made a tape recording to be played in the event of his death. The closing statement on that tape is, “All I ask is for the movement to continue, and if a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”