This profile of Richard Milstein ran in The Miami Herald on Nov. 18, 2005:
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
At 41, Milstein realized he was gay.
"When I first came out, I was not necessarily waving a flag. I was circumspect about it and protected myself not knowing what would happen,'' said Milstein, now 59, a leader in South Florida's gay community and still a prominent lawyer and civic activist. ``At some point I said I have to be who I am - that if people liked me as human being, they would like me as a gay man.''
On Nov. 5, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force honored Milstein for years of philanthropic service with the 2005 Humanitarian Award, sponsored by The Herald, at an annual recognition dinner in Miami Beach.
"I would go so far as to say that Richard Milstein stands as the single-largest fundraiser and supporter of this agency,'' said Rick Siclari, executive director of Care Resource, Florida's largest AIDS service organization. "In terms of absolute dollars and consistent support for our agency. He's just been amazing. He's been our No. 1 fundraiser for the [annual AIDS] Walk for many, many years. He's helped facilitate and personally raise a combined total of over a quarter-million dollars.''
Milstein's first brush with activism came while at Miami Beach High School in 1963. ``My class was the first to be desegregated,'' Milstein said.
There was one black student at the school and she wasn't allowed inside Wolfie's restaurant on Lincoln Road, Milstein said. He and other students protested ``until they let her in.''
Milstein graduated from Miami Dade College and the University of Miami. He taught government and economics at North Miami High from 1968 to 1971, then enrolled at UM's law school. He married and had two children, Rachel, now 26, and Brian, 29.
After 19 years of marriage, Milstein got divorced.
"As I was coming out, one of the things I looked for was a gay-parents group. I said to my wife, 'Is there any one in Miami?' She said, 'Please don't form one.' ''
Milstein got together about 12 other gay parents and started "a no-name group.''
"It gave us a little support group so we knew we weren't alone and we could share ideas about our children and former spouses,'' he said.
Milstein has remained friends with his ex-wife and stays close with his children. He lives in Miami Beach with his partner of 31/2 years, architect Eric Hankin, who teaches at Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami.
Every week, Milstein puts in about 40 "billable hours'' at Akerman Senterfitt, where he is a partner specializing in family law, elder law and same-sex-couple planning.
Milstein also volunteers about 15 hours a week for several well-known organizations:
* Dade Community Foundation, where Milstein is board chairman and has been a board member for six years. ``He is the consummate professional, but at the same time he is so concerned with what you are doing, you feel he is a personal friend,'' said foundation President Ruth Shack (pictured above with Milstein).
* SAVE Dade. Milstein says that he and other board members ``met every Thursday for five years as we were trying to get the [Miami-Dade County] gay-rights ordinance passed.''
* Miami Performing Arts Center Trust, where Milstein is pro bono counsel. ``His work . . . has been remarkable and wonderfully generous,'' Shack said. ``People know what hourly costs there are. I'm sure the overruns of the arts center would be a whole lot more if they were paying for his work.''
* UM Law Alumni Association (he is former president).
Milstein also volunteers for Pridelines, a gay youth group in Miami; Aqua Girl, which raises money for the Women's Community Fund in Miami; Nadadores, a gay swim team; and several Florida Bar subcommittees dealing with children's- and elderly-law issues.
"I'm not just involved in the [gay] community,'' he said. ``It's issues that are important to me.''
Some of the groups Richard Milstein is associated with:
* Care Resource, Florida's largest AIDS service agency: 3510 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 300, Miami; 305-576-1234; 993 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-567-7141; www.careresource.org
* Dade Community Foundation, philanthropic and chariable foundation: 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Suite 505, Miami; 305-371-2711; www.dadecommunityfoundation.org
* Miami Performing Arts Center Trust: 1444 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 202, Miami; 305-372-7611; www.miamipac.org
* SAVE Dade, Miami-Dade's largest gay-rights group: 6445 NE Seventh Ave., Miami; 305-751-7283; www.savedade.org