For gays and lesbians
Thanksgiving brought more than turkey, pilgrims and pumpkin pies this
year. We were also thankful for the arrival of Milk, the
Harvey Milk biopic that keeps our fight for civil rights on the front
burner of the political process.
(Personally, I'm thankful for its
arrival and the hopeful end of such silly headlines as: Drink your
Milk, Got Milk? and Milk is good for you.)
Opening on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Milk's assassination , the movie celebrates the life of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.
It arrives just in time to cheer on a
new generation of gays downtrodden by recent gay rights losses in
Arizona, Florida, Arkansas and California on Election Day.
Milk was an awkward man who refused to
hide the fact that he was gay. He won a long-fought election to the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 on his third attempt. But
it was a short-lived victory. The next year Dan White (played in the
film by Josh Brolin), another supervisor, assassinated Milk along
with Mayor George Moscone at San Francisco City Hall because he
disagreed with the gay rights initiatives Milk championed. Milk was
48 at the time of his death.
A major portion of the film pits Milk
against a religious-backed initiative to expel gay and lesbian
teachers from California schools – sound familiar?
“If this thing passes, fight the hell
back!” Milk, played by Sean Penn, says in Milk.
The lessons of Harvey Milk seem more
relevant today than at any time in the thirty years since his
death, as a new gay civil rights call to action is being answered by
the next generation of gays and lesbians who reject the notion that
checkbook activism was our only recourse. They understand that the
political visibility we have purchased remains inaudible without the
voice of real people to back it up.
Recently, many countries around the
globe have addressed gay and lesbian issues under the radar as we
remained focused on Proposition 8 and the presidential election.
In the small African nation of Burundi,
lawmakers outlawed being gay, while India is pondering the opposite.
And Sweden is setting the stage to legalize gay marriage, just as officials in Mexico City – where 8.7
million people reside – are
moving forward with legislation that allows transgender people to alter
their name and sex identity in an effort to blunt discrimination.
Not to say nothing is happening
concerning gay marriage in the United States. After the passage of
Proposition 8, the protests against it and the start of gay marriage
in Connecticut, anti-gay marriage groups are readying their defenses to protect the federal DOMA from repeal.
The Alliance for Marriage Foundation,
the group that drafted the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) in
Congress, unveiled a new website at www.ProtectDOMA.org
on Monday. The online resource gives facts and information about the
law that forbids any federal agency from recognizing legal gay
marriage. The law also allows states to ignore legal gay marriages
performed in another state.
“The repeal of DOMA is the
legislative Holy Grail for activists who want to impose their radical
social agenda upon America through the courts,” said Rev. Sam
Rodriguez, Jr., an AFM Advisory Board member and president of the
National Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) in a statement
announcing the new effort.
Anti-gay marriage groups fear
President-elect Barack Obama backed by a left-leaning Congress will
follow through on his pledge to repeal the anti-gay measure next
And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report that brought me news of the new documentary in production that follows The Gay Moralist author and Wayne State University professor of philosophy Dr. John Corvino as he champions gay marriage.
Don't let the milk spoil – go see
MILK! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself! )
The Gay Slant is a weekly feature of On Top
Magazine. Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top and can be reached at