Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Movie: Milk

By Mister Curie

This week's movie is the biographical movie "Milk", rated #4 on and #2 among MoHos. From IMDb:

Upon moving to San Francisco from New York City in 1972, forty year old Harvey Milk gains focus in his life as a gay activist in the city's Castro district. Gay rights activism turns to political activism as Milk decides he can be a more effective voice for the gay community as a politician, elected or not. Through several elections and losses both for a city seat and a state assembly seat, Milk becomes the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected to political office when he wins a San Francisco supervisor seat in 1977. His many political battlefronts include one with the national anti-gay Save the Children crusade, led and fronted by singer Anita Bryant. Closer to home, Milk has a continuing struggle with his fellow supervisor, Dan White, a staunch social conservative.
I learned a lot from this movie, and I got a glimpse of how little I know and how much more there is to learn. (1) I realized that I know practically nothing about the gay rights movement, (2) I learned that the same arguments and battlelines used in Prop 8 were used 30 years previously in the Prop 6 campaign (it was uncannily all familiar sounding), (3) I was reminded that it isn't just Mormonism that had pitted itself against homosexuality, and (4) I learned the value of coming out of the closet to let people know that there is someone close to them, someone they love, who is gay and that gays aren't the evil, degenerate people they believe us to be. Yesterday I posted that I still have some latent homophobia, there's something about the cultural conditioning and the lies that I've been fed all my life that is difficult for me to overcome. This movie made me ashamed of those feelings. If I am struggling with overcoming this bigotry, when I myself am homosexual, how much more difficult must it be for others who are not touched by homosexuality to overcome the bigotry? They need to know that homosexuals are decent and wonderful people.

This quote by Harvey Milk struck me:
I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects ... I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help.
Unfortunately I had to wait for Netflix to ship the DVD to watch this one, no "Watch it Now" option. But this was absolutely a must see film!

What did you think of it? What did it teach you?


  1. I loved Milk, I think it also helped me to get rid of some vestiges of latent homophobia. I think I began to understand why all the work Harvey did had importance for me. I went to San Fran last March shortly after seeing it and saw a very small, humble memorial to Harvey at the top of Castro Street. It was kind of set back from the street and so it was quieter there. Seeing the pictures at the memorial and reading about Harvey was seriously one of the most profound and unexpected spiritual experiences I've ever had.

    Another thing that occurred to me was how brilliantly talented so many gay men are but that talent hasn't been encouraged to surface because of the way homosexuals were treated especially then and even still to some extent today.

    Glad you liked the movie. Thanks also for all your posts about putting the pieces together. I'm sure it has been therapeutic for you and also helpful others as well.

  2. I loved that movie!

    Off the top of my head I can't think of any specific insights I got from it though.

  3. Jon - I will be in San Fran in a couple of months for a visit, perhaps visiting Castro Street would be a useful experience for me as well.

  4. Milk is probably my #1 favorite gay movie. What did it teach me? After watching this film, I promised myself that I would never sit silently through another campaign like prop 8.

  5. Also, The Times of Harvey Milk. This documentary shows you footage of the man himself. You have to see this.

  6. @MoHoHawaii - thanks for those suggestions, they will definitely go on my viewing list.