Monday, August 15, 2011

Got Milk?

For my birthday a few years ago I went to a preview screening of Milk (2008) . Afterwards there was a long Q&A with Gus, joining him were Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and star James Franco.
I vividly remember someone asking a question about Proposition 8 and Dustin giving the most amazing beautiful answer. The whole place erupted with applause and cheering. It was such an incredible feeling.
I just found a transtcript via  The Guardian 


Q9: As an American living in London, it's very interesting to see the way our civil rights as gay people are very different here from the States, and the social attitudes are very different. Watching this, it was like Groundhog Dog. Twenty years ago, we were watching the same story in California, and now we've just lost. So this was incredibly powerful to see the victory and it was interesting to hear how this, as James said, was erased from the history books. What do you think of the effect of this film on history and the fact that this is such a timely movie right now? This has been so large in the States and will make people think twice about how they voted on Proposition 8.

DLB: I hope you're right about how people voted, but it's also very common that people don't know who Harvey Milk is. We've really lost that history, and that's unfortunate because gay and lesbian kids don't grow up with the sense that they have forefathers and foremothers, and they really do. Not just Harvey Milk. The problem, as I see it, and I saw it unfolding as I was writing the script and when we were shooting, is that not just the people who might vote against gay rights need to see this movie, but that the gay community really, really needed to see this movie. I wish it had come out a year earlier, in a way, so that the gay community could look to a time when it was far more homophobic but we were winning these fights. And it was because Harvey Milk had come up with this strategy of coming out, of being upfront, outreach, education and shaking the hand of the guy or woman who might vote against you on election day, and that was really lost. If you're in California, and even in the civil rights fight for the past decade, you do not see a single gay or lesbian person in the ads. In the pro-gay ads, you don't hear the word "gay" or "lesbian" in the ads. You don't even see the word "marriage" in the yard signs or the literature. So it's become very closeted, very shy and very apologetic. And I think it's time for the gay and lesbian community to look back at their history, to look back at this time and see that the only way we're ever going to win our rights is by coming out again, by being vocal again and demanding full and equal rights, not just state by state but federally. I believe that's the only way that's ever going to happen. And to see that this was possible 30 years ago exactly, and it should be possible again today. It's like that old saying, "If you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it." And that is what's happening. So hopefully this is one piece of that history so we can start moving forward again in the United States.

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