Tired of hiding from himself, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) abandons his high-paying Wall Street job to come out of the closet and move to San Francisco's Castro district with his long-term lover, Scott Smith (James Franco). There, his camera shop quickly becomes a social hub of tolerance for many in the colourful Castro community who feel they have no place else to gather, disenfranchised by the era's narrow-mindedness. Seeing power in numbers, Harvey begins to speak for this silent majority - taking on bigoted businesses, unions and politicians. Small victories lead to bigger ones, and Harvey's bravery in the face of daily threats to his life and livelihood inspire others to speak up as well. Privately he thrives on being needed, embroiling himself in a destructive love affair with the young, lost Jack Lira (Diego Luna). But the newly united and emboldened community loudly delivers Milk into public office as the first openly gay elected politician anywhere in the country. His message of freedom and hope creates many enemies along the way, and he finds himself at odds with his eventual assassin Dan White (Josh Brolin). Yet, even in death, Harvey's voice bespeaks the bravery of a generation and ushers in a new era of tolerance and understanding, both in his community and around the world.