Harvey Milk birthday celebrations kickoff in the Castro

After the U.S. State Department issued a global travel warning for LGBTQ travelers last week, some members of the LGBTQ community are on edge, but that didn't stop them from coming out to celebrate Harvey Milk and his legacy this weekend. 

Pride flags waved in the wind as a band marched their way to Jane Warner Memorial Plaza. Harvey Milk Day, held on May 22 in honor of his birthday, is meant to commemorate the work of Milk and the steps he took to bring the community forward. 

"Today is not only a day of joy...I have to ring the alarm bells because it is also a time of great crisis," said Gwenn Craig, a former mentee of Harvey Milk and an LGBTQ activist.

Local leaders came out to shine a light on the event, and they discussed the current challenges the LGBTQ community is facing.

Last week, the United States Department of State issued a travel warning for the LGBTQ community who may be heading overseas just ahead of worldwide pride celebrations.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a member of the LGBTQ community, says the warning is nothing new:

"When you demonize a community globally for so many years, it's not surprising that there could be a threat of violence," Wiener told KTVU. 

Attendees at the Harvey Milk celebration say that attacks against the queer community aren't just happening overseas, but right here at home in the U.S. They say it's not just physical attacks that worry them, it's also legislation across the country that is aimed at the LGBTQ community.

"There's a lot of heat right now. Queer, trans and drag queens actually are under attack. The legislation they are trying to pass in this country of all places, in America, in 2024, is mind-boggling," said Sister Roma with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. "It's more important than ever for the Sisters and everyone to go out and live their authentic loud and proud selves."

An LGBTQ museum is in the works in San Francisco. When it is built, it will be the first full-scale LGBTQ museum and research center in the country. While the City is taking steps to bolster the safety and health of LGBTQ folks, it doesn't come without challenges.

"Sadly, in SF we purchased a building to support transitional-age youth who are trans in SF and we can't even talk about the location because of our concerns about safety," Breed told KTVU. 
"We will not deviate, we will not waver from our commitment, but we will double down and celebrate the community in extraordinary ways, like the museum."

Community members we spoke to say though safety is a concern for them, the time to be out and proud is now. 

"It's a responsibility to come out and be fabulous," said Sister Hera with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence told KTVU.