Today, May 22, 2012, would have been the 82nd birthday of Harvey Milk, an icon and martyr of the movement for LGBT equality (and one of my personal heroes) who was assassinated in 1978. The day is commemorated by supporters of LGBT rights around the world (and officially in the State of California) as Harvey Milk Day.

So, on this Harvey Milk Day, take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come in the fight for equal rights in the years since Milk’s murder. While there’s still a staggering amount of work to be done, I wonder if even a visionary like Harvey Milk could have imagined the dizzying pace of our progress towards equality. Today and every day, we must be thankful for the generations of courageous LGBTs and allies who came before us and braved a world more hostile than most of us can comprehend in order to help build the one we now inhabit. We can never forget that we’ve come as far as we have because heroes like Harvey Milk and so many others — many of whose names are forever lost to history — stood up first, came out first, fought back first, suffered the beatings first, took the bullets first. For us. Thank you, Harvey Milk. May our work honor your legacy.