I just finished this film. The film was criticized... mainly for its inclusion of openly gay characters.
It was one of the best films I've seen in my entire life. It is the real life of Harvey Milk, a major asset to gay rights in the 1970s, and the first openly gay man ever elected to public office in the United States.
From his tireless campaigns and willful facing and fighting of adversity, Milk is a hero to us all. And as he said, not just gays, the blacks, the asians, the elderly, the disabled, all of the us's, all of the minorities.
Harvey Milk did the right thing. He fought on an impossible front and won the majority of the battles, at great personal sacrifice. And still, today, he touches people. The only school for LGBT students and other students who have a high risk of being the victim of bullying was opened in his honor. (An estimated 160,000 students miss school every day out of fear for being bullied because they are LGBT) In NYC, Harvey Milk High School continues to spread what Harvey Milk taught, not only tolerance, but whole-hearted acceptance of the people that society has ostracized for no justifiable reason.
There was one quote that hit me really hard.
Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said “Thanks”. And you’ve got to elect gay people, so that thousands upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s: without hope the us’s give up. I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope."
Altoona is still a town with little hope for gay people. Here, in this little town, I've been glared at, I've been talked about, I've been called a dyke to my face. But in Altoona, off of campus, you get warned that it's not safe. It's not safe to be a young person in the darker parts of the small city, much less an openly lesbian young woman. And I remember, the night of the election, on the computer, watching Prop 8. I was watching for that hope. I did get hope in one sense, a straight man who openly supports gay rights was elected to the white house, and for that I'm thankful. But I also watched Blair county turn red, in fierce support of a man who believes that puritanical garbage should make it impossible for me to live in the same manner as a straight person, and a running mate who believes that her "friend" chose to be a lesbian, her "friend" chose to be marginalized by a society of uneducated bigots.
Harvey Milk's fight still isn't over. I talked to a friend a few weeks ago; she is going to school to become a teacher. She's afraid the parents of her future students will be aghast to see her with her partner in the community, that she'd lose her job for falling in love with a woman. We still don't have the federal right to not be fired because of who we love.
And Milk is right. You have to be out. The biggest foe is ignorance. The person who thinks gays are depraved and comparable to various deviant acts, has obviously never met one.
So: be out, be proud, and never, ever give up on the movement or on yourself.