Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
Recently discovered letters written by gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk may prove he was discharged from the Navy for being gay.
There may be evidence that gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk was discharged from the Army in 1955 for being gay.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is promoting the auction of two letters written by Milk, which contain phrases that allude to Milk being outed as a gay man during his time in the Navy, which may have lead to his discharge.
Milk served in the Navy aboard the submarine rescue ship, The USS Kittiwake, as a diving officer, during the Korean War. In 1955, the same year the letters were written, he was discharged for undisclosed reasons.
During that time, gay servicemen were frequently issued undesireable discharges without proof of engaging in sexual acts.
Pointing to a phrase in the letter addressed to his friend Patrick Mormon, Milk wrote, "Don't say or do anything. I've been turned in by Johnny Teynel and Marty 'Kid' (illegible) and a third party."
In the second letter, Milk tells Mormon of his plans to marry his lover, Joe Campbell, and move to Dallas.
Here, Milk writes, "...I'm on my way to Dallas, Texas to see someone. If things work out as I want, I may be a happily married man by the end of this year."
The bidding for the letters, set to be auctioned off on July 28th, are expected to fetch from $1,000 to $2,000.
Leslie Hindman, the president of the auctioneering company, is confident that the letters provide irrefutable evidence of Milk's discharge and has no problem starting the auction with a conservative number.
"We want people to make up their own minds as to how much they're worth," said Hindman.
Jim Sharp, Director for Exhibitions and Inventory Control, says its the social issues present then that are still present now, that make the letters historical and important.
"It refers to gay marriage and don't ask don't tell, which is just as relevant now as it was 50 years ago," said Sharp.