Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 7)

The movie, Milk (2008), was nominated for eight Academy Award nominations and ended up winning two: Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black).

Milk tells the story of the struggles Harvey Milk endured in the last eight years of his life as a gay rights activist and politician. The high point of the film shows Milk (Sean Penn) being elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, which made him the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. But sadly, the movie ends with Milk and Mayor George Moscone being assassinated by Dan White on November 27, 1978.

Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie at 94%. And even though R rated, most Christian reviewers stated the movie was well acted and well done.

The film’s release was tied to the 2008 California voter referendum on gay marriage, Proposition 8, as its premiere was held in San Francisco two weeks before election day, November 4, 2008.

Although always considered an icon by the San Francisco gay community, the movie catapulted Harvey Milk into martyrdom status. President Obama posthumously awarded Milk a Presidential Medal of Freedom (August, 2009). Desmond Tutu supported the founding of the Harvey Milk Foundation (2009).

But then, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 572 on October 11, 2009. This bill designated May 22 as Harvey Milk Day and encouraged California public schools, K-12, to commemorate the life and values of Milk.

Was Harvey Milk a martyr, someone to be admired by school children? 

If you only watch the movie and listen to politicians and gay rights activists, the answer is “yes.” But if you do a little research, a different side of Harvey Milk can be seen.

The script for the movie, Milk, was adapted from Randy Shilt’s biography of Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street (St. Martins Press, 1982). Shilts wrote the book while struggling to find full-time employment as an openly gay reporter.

Later, Randy Shilt’s explained why he chose to write on Milk’s life:

At the time, for those of us who lived in San Francisco, it felt like it was life changing, that all the eyes of the world were upon us, but in fact most of the world outside of San Francisco had no idea. It was just a really brief, provincial, localized current events story that the mayor and a city council member in San Francisco were killed. It didn’t have much reverberation.” (Quartini, Joelle (June 20, 2008). “Harvey Milk Returns”, The New York Blade12 (25), p. 18.)

Here’s some quotes from Randy Shilt’s book, not portrayed in the movie, Milk:

“…sixteen-year-old McKinley was looking for some kind of father figure…At 33, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.” (pages 30-31)

“It would be to boyish-looking men in their late teens and early 20’s that Milk would be attracted for the rest of his life.” (page 24)

“Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance abuse problems.” (page 180)

“As homosexuals, we can’t depend on the heterosexual model…We grow up with the heterosexual model, but we don’t have to follow it. We should be developing our own life-style. There’s no reason why you can’t love more than one person at a time. You don’t have to love them all the same. You love some less, love some more — and always be honest with everybody about where you’re at. They in turn can do the same thing and it can open up a bigger sphere.” (pages 237-238)

Why in the world would politicians and educators hang their reputations on Harvey Milk?

(Continued in Part 8)

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 7)

  1. This is all new info for me Larry . . .and very eye opening. Thank you and God bless you as you bring us this series.

  2. Debbie,

    Thanks. Hopefully, many eyes are opened.

  3. Naphtali,

    Thanks and sadly, no one really seems to care.

  4. Today, because of Harvey Milk and many pioneers in the gay rights movement there are support groups for young gays. Keep in mind, many of the young people arriving daily in San Francisco were kicked out of their homes by their parents… many who claim family values! Also keep in mind, today many states consider 16 years old as adults and old enough for consenting sex. I recommend all school systems to have the after school program GAY/ STRAIGHT ALLIANCE. It advocates teens understanding of the differences, and stop bully’s and allows peers to get along without the stigma religious institutions cause.

  5. Jerry Pritikin,

    Thanks for your input.

  6. Caddo Veil

    Thanks for the added info, Larry–I liked the movie, and certainly didn’t feel Milk and the other guy should deserve assassination. But I draw the line at martyrdom. It’s a tough world we live in.

  7. Caddo Veil,

    Thanks. I didn’t see the movie, but I know most people who saw it liked it. Gross ticket receipts in America were $34 million…not a lot for a heavily praised movie.

    Harvey Milk’s life was cut short by assassination and that’s a tragedy for all of us. Every life has value before God, and so did his.

  8. Lou

    [Hi Larry. Enclosed is what I stumbled upon while on my computer.]

    Harvey Milk Stamped “Out” Forever !

    The Obama Cabal is behind universal GAYety with a “forever” postage stamp glorifying Harvey Milk, a Jewish homosexual predator “attracted to boys aged 15-19,” according to WikiAnswers! (Also see Wikipedia.)
    Global gaydom was even predicted by Jesus (see “days of Lot” in Luke 17 and compare with Genesis 19).
    And the Hebrew prophet Zechariah (14th chapter) says that during the same end-time gay “days” ALL nations will come against Israel and fulfill the “days of Noah” at the same time (see Luke 17 again) – a short time of anti-Jewish genocide found in Zechariah 13:8 when two-thirds of all Jews will die.
    In other words, when “gay days” have become universal, all hell will break loose!
    The same “days” will cause worldwide human government to collapse in just a few short years! For the first time ever there won’t be enough time for anyone to attend college, have a family, enjoy retirement, etc. It will also be the last time anyone like ObabaBlackSheep will be able to keep pulling the wool over our eyes!
    One final thought. The more we see gays “coming out,” the sooner Jesus will be “coming down”!
    For more, Google or Yahoo “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality. When gays have birthdays…,” “FOR GAYS ONLY: Jesus Predicted…,” “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans!” and “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”
    (PS: HOMOgenized Milk has been honored by Gov. Schwarzenaggravator as well as Pres. ObabaBlackSheep.)

  9. Lou,

    Thanks for your input. God bless you.

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