Andre Gide once wrote that only those who have been touched by the wings of death will ever truly understand the flight of life.

Ten years from the cancer that nearly stole me away from a decade of fantasy baseball and gay publishing, I look back as much as forward when it comes to July 4. Traditionally, I would spend my July 4ths in Big Sur or Provincetown, or an athletic destination where I could bicycle or camp. Now, my idea of camping is when room service is late.

Frank Kameny

“If Athens shall appear great to you,” wrote Pericles, “consider that her glories were won simply by good men doing their duty each day.”

The real heroes of the gay revolution walked up and down Wilton Drive last Sunday. You.

Just as thousands marched in Denver last weekend, and will parade in Manhattan this Saturday, gay America has no closets anymore.

The real heroes are people who work every day as businessmen and citizens, breaking down barriers. If we list their names, we of course inadvertently omit others. But a yeoman like Bob Kecskemety cannot be forgotten. Fifteen years ago, he was editing Scoop Magazine. At the Pride Festival Sunday, which he helped coordinate, he was putting out a thousand fires.

Matlovich Arrest

He was first of all, a soldier, on the battlefield in Vietnam, and then in the battle for gay civil rights in America.

In the 1970’s, my friend Leonard Matlovich was perhaps the best-known openly gay man in America next to Harvey Milk.

His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause ce?le?bre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television inter- views, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian service members and the gay community in general.

Welcome to our 2010 Pride issue, our 21st edition. SFGN is five months old today. At 56 pages, this is our largest issue, and the size speaks for itself.

The publication this week is a tribute to the support and faith of our advertisers who have been sponsoring us since Day 1. They are our business partners and your neighbors, individuals who help make SFGN happen each and every week. As they support us, so should you support them.

These businesses face challenging economic times, yet they have been willing to use their limited economic revenues to support a strong and vibrant gay community newspaper.

This leaves us gracious and humbled. The costs to do what we do are not cheap. That so many have joined us so quickly is testimony to the fact that this community sought and will support a credible LGBT newspaper.

I guess in South Florida it was a beach day.

But on Saturday, activists all over the country, including on the west coast of Florida, celebrated the inaugural Harvey Milk Day to increase support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals.The celebrations were run in tandem with the first Harvey Milk Day in California, a day of recognition for the slain gay rights activist and politician.

Cleve Jones, who was close friends with Milk in the 1970s, said the commemoration is long overdue.

“So many of Harvey’s friends and colleagues did not survive the ’80s and ’90s, so there was only a small group of us who worked very hard for a long time to keep his name alive. At times, it felt like a losing battle,” said Cleve Jones, who made the AIDS Quilt happen. “Now I feel really confident that Harvey’s name will be remembered.” Jones said.

Harvey Milk Day isn’t a formal state holiday, but it is a day of special significance to honor Milk’s contributions to the gay equality movement. Admittedly, his efforts and energies were in San Francisco, a far cry from South Florida. However, the message of Harvey Milk resounded nationally. Of course, it was captured on screen both in documentaries as well as in Hollywood by Sean Penn’s stunning depiction of Milk in the award-winning film.

His battles, of course, occurred in San Francisco just as Anita Bryant was squeezing our oranges here in South Florida. Both causes led to national debates.

Harvey Milk has become a gay American hero. His nephew, Stuart Milk, ontinues to champion his cause, and is often seen here in South Florida, as he has a home in Wilton Manors. Last year, when President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk, it was Stuart who went to the White House to accept it. That medal was then displayed here in Fort Lauderdale at the Stonewall Library.

We will not all win medals as Harvey Milk did posthumously. But we can all be about tolerance, equality and hope. Since this issue has a feature about pets, one thought that comes to mind is that we can all live our lives in such a way that we become the kinds of people our pets think we are. We can, as Abraham Lincoln once wrote, not only be proud of our community, but make our community proud of us.

A bullet from a madman took Harvey Milk from us prematurely, but we have learned again and again in American life that while a murderer’s gun may end a life, it cannot stop a legacy of remembrance.

Therefore, on this past Saturday, while you relaxed quietly on a beach, dined at a restaurant, or worked on catching up with your bills, remember that the freedoms we have won have come with a price. We have borne burdens and endured hardships to reach this day. Let’s not forget the memory of those who helped get us here.

Somehow, with a GLCC, a Dolphin Democratic Club, a host of candidates running for office, and a host of organizations hoisting their own petard, it is downright shameful, significantly embarrassing, and a bit humiliating that South Florida failed to recognize the Harvey Milk Day in any appreciable way. Even Sarasota did something. Next year, let’s do better.