Adam Markovitz
November 28, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

After stints as a Navy officer and insurance salesman, Harvey Milk moved to San Francisco in the ’70s and was elected to the city’s board of supervisors — the first openly gay man to hold public office in a major U.S. city. A gifted speaker and born joker, Milk was a darling of the local media. He successfully battled a conservative push to outlaw gay teachers in California, urging people to come out and fight homophobia. Tragically, Milk was killed in 1978 by onetime board member Dan White. His heroic life was memorialized in 1984’s Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk.

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