Goodbye Southwest Stark Street, It’s Harvey Milk Street Now

City Council today voted to rename a section of Stark in honor of the San Franciscan gay rights icon.

Photo by Daniel Nicoletta Harvey Milk as Mayor for a Day March 7, 1978

Portland City Council today voted to rename a 13-block section of Southwest Stark Street after famous gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

As The Oregonian first reported, the name change for the stretch of Stark Street between Naito Parkway and Burnside—historically a hub for Portland's LGBTQ community—was fast-tracked in honor of Pride Month and this weekend's Pride Parade.

Milk was the nation's first openly gay elected official. He won a seat on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was assassinated one year later, at the age of 48.

Before the City Council vote today, Mayor Ted Wheeler said that the name change "sends a signal that we are an open and a welcoming and an inclusive community."

The few critics of the commemoration argued that a local leader should be honored instead. As WW noted last fall: Milk had no known connections to Portland, but before its recent gentrification, Southwest Stark Street served as the center of gay life in the city.

City Council members say that one must have made a "significant, positive contribution to the United States," and have been deceased for five years to qualify for a street name consideration.

Around a dozen community members—including Basic Rights Oregon's co-executive director Nancy Haque and Darcelle XV, a Portland local and the world's oldest drag performer—testified in favor of the name change.

"Portland is a travel destination," said Darcelle, according to The Oregonian. "People come for the scenery, the smiles, the doughnuts and the drag queens."

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