Tuesday, December 2, 2008


There are instances when a film's release is so perfectly timed and in tune with the happenings of the world that you would second guess whether or not some studio execs have psychics on staff.  Walking away from just watching Milk and trying to comprehend the timeliness (and ultimately timelessness) of this story is stunning.   Since previews always give away too much, here is Harvey Milk in a quick nutshell:

While the movie altogether is fantastic, there was one aspect that I cannot shake.  There is one scene with Harvey Milk having a meeting with a bunch of established rich gay guys, debating a mailer ad for a new piece of gay rights legislation Milk is pushing.  Milk is furious: "You don't mention the word gay on here once!  You've got to have at least one old queer on here somewhere."  The old-school stodgy gays response: This is what works.  But for Milk, the ultimate solution was visibility.  If people's awareness is raised to a level above the religious bigotry and fearmongering, their minds will be changed.  Simple, yet brilliant.  

But visibility, courage, and speaking up always has negative repercussions amongst the most insecure in our society, and Harvey Milk fell victim to those repercussions.  

For today's gays, the passage of Proposition 8 will probably be viewed as the most positive setback for equal rights.  Plenty of fingers have been pointed seeking blame for our loss against Prop 8, but no one can argue that we displayed enough visible during the campaign, whether it was in our commercials or in our organizing.  

"You've got to have at least one old queer on here somewhere."  

"But this is what works."  

No, not anymore.  

The gays of the 70's had decades of severe discrimination and harassment motivating them to become visible, and Harvey Milk helped them organize.  Now, the gays have Proposition 8 to thank for their motivation.  And now, with this film, we have a renewed figure -- our own martyr -- helping to show us the way... again.  

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