Thursday, November 27, 2008

Getting Milk

To see Milk on the day Harvey was shot, in the Castro Theatre, which featured prominently in the film, was almost like watching home movies.

From my days back in high school in Ohio, when I saw the news of his assassination, and the subsequent White Night Riots, Harvey Milk has been a part of my thoughts and life, like so many other gay people.

Yet, I never thought, even two years before moving here, that I would live so close to where it all happened. Mere blocks from City Hall and The Castro District, I've taken Harvey's legacy for granted.

Even after moving here, and getting to know people who were his friends, part of me never got the impact that Milk had.

The current issue of the BAR includes article about Harvey Milk, the movie Milk, and local gay peoples' reminiscences about that fatefuly day, 30 years ago, when Supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White.

It's amazing to work at a publication where Harvey was also a contributor, a paper that's even mentioned in the film as one of Harvey's endorsers (only on his third supervisor bid).

Following Dan Nicoletta's acclaimed GLBT Historical Society exhibit, Saint Harvey, with their second, Sporting Life, which I curated, I got to see intimately, the incredible documentation of that era, mostly by photographers like Robert Pruzan and Crawford Barton.

As many know, that exhibit included the suit in which Harvey was shot; bullet holes and blood were all on display. And yes, there was a day where, sitting in an archival box after the exhibit closed, while I was working at the historical society, I delicately lifted the top and simply gazed upon that suit, folded in tissue paper, somber, a shroud, a relic of our movement, as local accomplished artist Leo Herrera's recent photographs attest.

Having participated in my small way in activism, and this year, as one of many enthusiastic extras (who never made it onscreen, darnit!), it all seemed so familiar, like I'd already read the script, like I'd already seen it.

That's not a bad thing. It's just interesting to see new audiences, and people, like my dinner and movie date, become exposed to the intricacies of politics, and the delicate and sometimes very public events that shaped Harvey's fate.

How will audiences feel, those out in America, not as cozy with the setting, not as familiar with the struggle, about such a political yet ultimately human film? Will they be as distanced as I am sometimes from those that are just now learning who he was?

SF SF Chronicle as a bunch of articles
about the history of that fateful day, and an interview with Milk protegeé and prolific photographer Dan Nicoletta.

MSNBC has an article on Milk and Moscone.

Its gay film critic dislikes the 'standard biopic' aspects of the movie.

Good As You has clippings from Harvey's days; his political successes and failures.

Having participated in previous Milk Marches, and the filming of it on Market St. only blocks away, tomorrow's march should be a moving, if not deja vu-ish, event, for many.

I can't help but think, given his prescience -and love of tragic opera- that Harvey saw all this in a prophetic dream, or a vision. That's pretty much how it's portrayed in his last audio tape, in the film, in so many accounts of his life.

If you knew you were to die senselessly, wouldn't you do everyhting in your power to change the world?

The 30th annual Milk March will begin at 4 p.m. at City Hall Friday, November 28. If you're in another part of the country, or the world, see this film. Be warmed by the love stories, the passion, and yes, the politics.

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