Friday, December 5, 2008

Harvey Milk

I enjoy going to the movie theater to take in a flick, but I hate wasting close to $10 to see a so so film that I could have just as easily ordered via Netflix. Today the Sac Bee recommended "Milk" staring Sean Penn who plays a gay man who makes an important decision to relocate (& reinvent himself) in San Francisco in the early 1970's. So, I thought I'd check it out.

Penn's performance was impeccable. I went to YouTube and listened to the real Milk's final thoughts that he had recorded on audio tape just prior to his assassination and Penn sounded just like the man. What I found so fascinating about Milk as portrayed by the movie was that he wasn't godlike, superhuman or even incredibly charismatic. With the help of a total stranger who soon became his partner (played by James Franco), he seized the opportunity to change his life.

At the time, both in San Francisco and nationally, gay rights were being challenged, and in some cases eliminated. Milk's sexual orientation became his calling to community activism. Over time his position within his community, and support from other minority populations within the city earned him a huge victory as the first openly gay person elected to public office. Tragically, his life was taken (along with Mayor George Moscone) shortly after by another member of the county board of supervisors, but Milk's legacy remains a generation later.

One might ask, why does Reinventing Dad review this movie on his site? Isn't this a family site?The truth is until I read the review, I had never heard of Harvey Milk. Somewhat embarrassing for a native California who now lives 80 miles from San Francisco and considers himself a bit of a history buff. Like those before him seeking freedom, civil rights or even the right to vote, I respect him for attempting to educate the majority, fighting for who he was and seeking those truths as mentioned by our Four Fathers.
As an individual and a parent often times it's difficult to leave your comfort zone. In my case this would be suburbia and includes parks with playgrounds, Target and California Family Fitness. I intend to teach my children tolerance with the idea that not only should you be true to yourself, but respect the opinions of others (even if you do NOT agree with them).
I've definitely turned the corner in some respects. In closing, after the movie ended a lady made the statement that perhaps our recent controversial Prop 8 (gay marriage) might have had different results if the movie was released prior to the Nov 4 election.....we'll never know.

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