I recall with perfect clarity the moment I heard the news the San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk had been murdered.
From Diane Feinstein, at the time a SF Supervisor:
“Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed”, then adding after being drowned out by shouts of disbelief, “and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”
Shaken to my core, like so many at the time, I watched reports of the killings … developing great respect that continues to this day for Diane Feinstein who held a bleeding head as life poured out … and the subsequent joke of the Dan White trial.
Years later, my brother starred in “Philadelphia”, the first mainstream film to feature a gay lead character, and about popped with pride as a legion of movie fans learned lessons in compassion.
(An aside … This was also the most difficult role for me to see Tom in, and I still can’t watch the film without falling to bits. In fact, I’ve only seen it 3 times even though it lives in my DVD library. The first time was with my best friend, Robbie, who has AIDS, setting me thinking that from then on I wouldn’t see a film about an illness without doing so while sitting beside someone living with said dreaded disease. “Sybil” would be hard, though, since, as far as I know I don’t have any friends that are multiples … but, then again, may I do … )
Robbie sent me a link today from the Courage Campaign about the film “Milk” and the acceptance speech given by Dustin Lance Black when winning the Oscar.
I’m passing this along …
“When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.” — Dustin Lance Black, accepting an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, February 22
One speech can change the lives of millions.
For Dustin Lance Black and millions of gays and lesbians, it was Harvey Milk’s “Hope” speech and the life of the man who gave it.
And, for millions of people watching the Academy Awards last night, it was Dustin Lance Black’s Oscar acceptance speech, channeling the spirit of Milk with a universal message of hope and determination in the aftermath of the passage of Prop 8.
Last night, Black and Sean Penn won Academy Awards for their wonderful work in the creation of “Milk” — the film chronicling the life and times of Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in American history. Cleve Jones, who worked with Milk in the 1970’s and pushed for many years to get this beautiful film made, smiled proudly from the audience.
If you have not seen Dustin Lance Black’s short, but moving acceptance speech — broadcast to over 30 million Americans Sunday night — please take a moment to watch it now. Then sign our note of congratulations to Dustin, Sean, and Cleve and thank them for their life-changing film. If you feel so inspired, please write a short note letting them know how “Milk” has touched your life:
As Dustin put it backstage in an interview after his acceptance speech, he felt that this appearance on the Oscar stage was an opportunity to “pay it forward” to millions of people — especially teenagers living in fear of what might happen if they come out:
“For me, the whole thing was always to… pay it forward. You know, Harvey gave me his story… Oh, I’m going to cry [pauses to compose himself]… Harvey gave me his story and it saved my life. And I just thought it’s time to pass it on… The only thing I really knew I wanted to say was to tell those kids out there that they’re going to be alright.”
They are going to be OK, but only if we all follow in the footsteps of Harvey Milk and continue fighting for equality for all Americans.
You can help Dustin Lance Black pay it forward now by sending this email to your friends and family — especially the people who most need to watch his inspiring acceptance speech. Then sign our congratulatory note to Dustin, Sean Penn, and Cleve Jones and consider adding a few words of your own about what “Milk” means to you:
Thank you for sharing this momentous speech with the people you care about the most and giving them the opportunity to share it with their loved ones as well.
P.S. In addition to being the driving forces behind making “Milk” a reality, Dustin Lance Black and Cleve Jones were both active in working to defeat Prop 8 before the election. And they were both in the streets in the aftermath of Prop 8’s passage, protesting the enshrinement of discrimination into California’s state constitution. Cleve also gave the keynote speech at the first Camp Courage in Los Angeles and plans to attend the Fresno training on March 7-8.
Please thank Dustin and Cleve now for bringing Harvey Milk’s life to millions of people and for their ongoing activism in the movement to restore marriage equality to California:
Courage Campaign Issues is part of the Courage Campaign’s online organizing network that empowers over 600,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change in California.
I have not seen the film … and am hoping someone sends me a DVD when it’s out in that format. I did, however, live the history.
How far have we come? A long way, no doubt, but there is still far to go.
My friends are no longer dropping like flies and funerals don’t happen monthly as they seemed to some years ago, but as long as anyone considers a person’s choices in love a reason to reduce the value, restrict the rights or condemn in any way, the fight is still on.