The death of Milán Rózsa, Hungary’s Harvey Milk

Milán Rózsa was born just a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1988. He had no personal experience fighting for rights and freedoms, something that an earlier generation of young Hungarians had engaged in, during the last years of the Kádár regime. Yet over the past four years, Mr. Rózsa became one of the most prominent and certainly the most outspoken (and possibly among the most energetic) young activists of the left. During the Internet tax protests, Mr. Rózsa played a key role and was present among the demonstrators at Fidesz party headquarters. He was arrested, but not charged. Earlier, he trespassed on the property of Russia’s embassy in Budapest, to protest homophobia and support gay rights for Russia’s LGBT community. He also made headlines by climbing up on the balcony of Hungary’s presidential palace, the Sándor palota, demanding a referendum on whether Hungary should accept Russian financing of the Paks atomic energy plant.

Milán Rózsa (1988-2014)

Milán Rózsa (1988-2014)

But on Friday, Mr. Rózsa made headlines for a different reason: at age 26, he committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. Stuart Milk, who had written about Mr. Rózsa earlier on for The Huffington Post, wrote one of the most eloquent farewells on his Facebook profile.

“Milán Rózsa is a hero that we all lost today. This is so very hard to write. One of the great rewards of doing global face to face advocacy is becoming close friends with extraordinary human souls doing incredible work in the harshest of environments. One of the worst elements of doing this on the ground global work is losing so many of these amazing friends. Anyone who has heard me speak on global rights in the last few years know that Milán had allowed me to publicly tell his inspiring story,” wrote Mr. Milk, an LGBT activist and nephew of Harvey Milk, a San Francisco-based municipal politician and staunch LGBT rights activist, who was assassinated in 1978.

Stuart Milk likened Mr. Rózsa to his late uncle, Harvey, when his foundation made it possible for the Hungarian activist to visit and speak about his struggle in Washington, DC. Mr. Rózsa led the LGBT Pride Parade in Budapest in 2011, when it was attacked by young fascists and and neo-Nazis. Mr. Milk had been in attendance as well. “The state-sanctioned hostility, hate and violence directed at the LGBT community and other minority communities in Hungary are worse than we could imagine here across the Atlantic,” wrote Mr. Milk.

Mr. Rózsa showed remarkable bravery when faced with violent far-right activists, but his father saw his son’s public stance differently, and committed suicide a day after the parade. “Milan was shocked, weary, bruised to the bone and deeply depressed, but his courage would remain strong in the face of adversity,” observed Mr. Milk.

Mr. Milk promised the young Hungarian activist, that he could count on the moral support of key American leaders, who view with consternation political events unfolding in Eastern Europe.

“He will know that he does indeed have the support of our nation, which, though separated from him by an ocean, understands that we live in an increasingly global society and that we will not stand silently by when hate and repression rear their ugly heads anywhere. As my uncle Harvey said, “Hope will never be silent.” Milán is a reminder of that mantra. He is a reminder that the price of equality is vigilance” wrote Mr. Milk.

Milán Rózsa at the Internet tax protests in October 2014. Photo: 444.hu

Milán Rózsa at the Internet tax protests in October 2014. Photo: 444.hu

Mr. Rózsa’s shocking and  tragic death late this week truly rattled the thousands of other activists who knew this 26 year old young man personally. Some wondered whether, indeeed, he had committed suicide. His close friends seem certain that he had in fact taken his own life, and added that Mr. Rózsa had been struggling with depression for some time.

He had been so determined to continue fighting for equality and democratic rights, even just a couple of weeks ago, that even his closest allies didn’t grasp the personal pain that he was going through. This is a stark reminder that people (especially men) often struggle with mental illness in silence, due to the societal stigma.

In addition to the thousands of tributes on social media sites, Mr. Rózsa’s supporters lit votive candles and left photographs in front of the building where he lived. The Hungarian democratic opposition lost one of its most credible, courageous and dynamic voices.

Remembering Milán Rózsa.

Remembering Milán Rózsa. Photo: Márton Mányai.

21 Comments

  1. We can only work for a world that will one day recognize this man for the incredible work he did and the passionate human being he was. So tragic, my thoughts are with our LGBT brothers and sisters in eastern Europe.

  2. Avatar Klaus Heusslein says:

    RIP my friend!

  3. Avatar Géza Hegedüs says:

    it is very sad a young man takes his life and forgets that there is always hope, but I can not agree what mr Stuard wrote for the Huffington post. Mr Rózsa was not a Hungarian hero, but just a victim and a puppet of left liberalism and the globalist behind it. (he had support of key American leaders) His views of life took away his hope at the end and sadly let to his fatal decision.

  4. Avatar Uzsoky Borbála says:

    Shame on you Géza Hegedüs!
    Could’t you find a better place for your racist, idiotical ideas to propagate?

  5. Pingback: Smrt madžarskog Harvey Milka – Milán Rózsa (1988-2014) | femtechs

  6. Pingback: Smrt mađarskog Harvey Milka – Milán Rózsa (1988-2014) | femtechs

  7. Avatar Şeref Saraç says:

    RIP my friend. I will never forget you.

  8. Avatar Johannes de Jonghe d'Ardoye says:

    Thank you for letting us know this wonderful person . May he rest in peace !

  9. Milán was an inspiration in Hungary and abroad. I had the honor of meeting him at the 2014 Budapest Pride. I am heartbroken to think that I will never see his smiling face or follow his political actions. For every Milán, there are still dozens of young Hungarians who are working tirelessly for a better Hungary that includes equality for ALL. Please support those organizations like Szivarvany Misszio.

  10. Pingback: Rózsa Milán emlékére – a civil ellenzék egyik legdinamikusabb aktivistája távozott

  11. Avatar Bogumil Pacak-Gamalski says:

    My sincere condolences to the entire LGBTQ community in Hungary. It is not a happy and fulfilled world where young, talented people like Mr. Rózsa, die tragically …

  12. I’m very careful judging these suicide cases. Recently too many prominent persons committed suicide. Hundreds of them were mostly very young successful bankers even from JP Morgan, activists, actors,(Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, …) eye witnesses, and many muckraking journalists etc. All committed suicide at a sudden attack of depression. How interesting.

    Some of them has just suffered very suspicious accident and died (obviously killed) like Richard Rockefeller and again others (around 20 of them) boarded a Boeing that has just disappeared.

    He was young and active, for me it’s hard to believe he would have been left without help if he needed.

    Today there is an art of technology that can push anybody onto suicide either by using electromagnetic waves technology (they bragged about being able to find, identify and target a fly within 10 km or a human within 40) or by a drug induced depression.

    Well, I don’t know his life, his problems and his motivations, but my guessing is that it is not a lucky idea to challenge them Russians and scale the security fence and enter their embassy. It is not a wise thing to be a hero, it doesn’t take us anywhere.

    No irreverence here, I’m just writing to say that activists had better find another safer and more effective way of protesting before many more will “commit suicide”.

    No sarcasm here, I am serious. Very serious.

  13. Avatar Judy-Marie Watson says:

    My heart is heavy that a dear, brave, passionate and giving man has left this earth in such pain. No speculation necessary, he took his life in one of those awful brief moments where hope is lost that happens to everyone who is depressed … let’s honour him by honouring all he believed in and carry the message of acceptance forward.

  14. Tragic, tragic loss
    Pity and woe,
    This is no answer
    Faith in love and hope
    in goodness, RIP

  15. Avatar maria teresa reyes says:

    RIP

  16. Business as usual. Using someones personal tragedy to gain political benefits. Hypocrites.

  17. I am heartbroken by this sad news. I had met Milán a few times – he was involved in organising the LGBT Eurogames in Budapest, and I found him a very charming and passionate young man. This is a tragic loss.

  18. Pingback: Hongrie: Hommage après la disparition tragique de Milán Rózsa, le Harvey Milk hongrois | Yagg

  19. Pingback: How ‘Russia’s Don Juan-in-Chief’ Has Chinese Censors Working Overtime | Radio Free

Leave a Reply to Peter Quigley Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *