Drag pageant marks WeHo’s Harvey Milk Day

Wave Wire Services

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city’s annual celebration of Harvey Milk Day May 22 included the inaugural José Sarria Drag Pageant, named for the first openly gay candidate for office in the United States.

The pageant was held at the West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center and consisted of three rounds — formal wear, question and answer and talent. City officials plan to make the pageant an annual event.

The pageant will also include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity and custom typewriter poetry.

The pageant was hosted by Maebe A. Girl, who became the first drag queen elected to public office in the United States when she was elected to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in 2019.

She is among the candidates seeking to succeed Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, in representing the 30th Congressional District, which includes West Hollywood. Schiff is seeking to succeed retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne was among the judges.

Sarria was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton and founded the Imperial Court System, one of the world’s oldest and largest LGBT organizations. He finished ninth in a field of 34 in a race for five seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, then elected on a citywide basis.

Harvey Milk Day also marked the start of WeHo Pride Arts Festival, which runs through June 30, the end of Pride Month.

Milk was the third openly gay elected official in the nation and the first in California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated in 1978, along with Mayor George Moscone, by Dan White, who had resigned from the board 17 days earlier, citing corruption in San Francisco politics and the position’s low pay, and unsuccessfully sought to be appointed by Moscone to fill the vacancy.

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill in 2009 requiring the governor to annually proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, coinciding with the anniversary of his birth in 1930.

Harvey Milk Day is among the days designated as a day having special significance under the Education Code, with “all public schools and educational institutions … encouraged to observe that day … and to conduct suitable commemorative exercises” recognizing Milk’s accomplishments “and familiarizing pupils with the contributions he made to this state.”

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