Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Milk

From time to time on this blog I like to mention movies, concerts, and other arts events I have attended.

Last Sunday (12/28) I finally went to see the movie Milk, a biopic of Harvey Milk starring Academy Award winner Sean Penn. Several scenes in the movie caused me to tear up and I left the theater in reflective silence.

Released 30 years after Milk's murder in 1978, I was left to ponder both the significant gains made in these three decades as well as the slowness of the moral arc of the universe in its bending towards justice.

It has been literally a lifetime for me since Harvey Milk's election to public office. It has been half a lifetime since the rights of GLBT persons became a justice issue close to my heart...

... half a lifetime since I was a founding member of my high school's Gay/Straight Alliance.
... half a lifetime since I marched in the first ever Gay/Straight Youth Pride Parade in Boston.
... half a lifetime since the other high school students coaxed me up in front of the crowd on the State House steps in Boston and I led the crowd in an impromptu cheer that won our group a beatufil rainbow flag that was then proudly displayed in an awards case at our high school.

Walking out of Milk during the closing credits I also was struck by how little the rhetoric of those opposed to GLBT rights has changed in my lifetime. The footage of Anita Bryant's hate-speech does not seem like a clip from the past, in the way that showing a clip of Bucky Dent's 1978 homerun against the Boston Red Sox is clearly a flashback. Her words, sadly, are too modern, too indistinguishable from the words of a James Dobson or a Pat Robertson or a letter to the editor in the Kansas City Star.

Leaving the film I was aware that today's America continues to put the rights of GLBT persons on the ballot, making what is supposed to be inalienable a matter of public opinion. But I also walked out with hope. I walked out with more than hope. I walked out sure that the side of justice, human rights, and human dignity will prevail, just that the victory, like all victories of this kind, will come too slowly.