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Every body needs Milk


I recently watched Milk for a second time, and one of the realizations that struck me was that right around the same time that Harvey Milk was calling for everyone to come out was when my own father came out. My father was working for the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services at the time, and I have no doubt that he was well aware of and supportive of Milk’s candidacy and activism several miles to the North. I don’t think the timing is coincidental. I think that his decision to move out of the house he shared with his wife and children to live as an openly gay, partnered man was very much a part of that same movement, and that same momentum. I didn’t have the knowledge or insight to see the broader political context of his actions at the time.

Harvey Milk recognized that the path to civil rights for homosexuals required as many people as possible to publicly – and privately – make themselves known. It was essential to the movement that more and more heterosexuals knew homosexuals personally, in their families, in their workplaces, and ultimately, in their governments. In more than one place in the film he refers to statistics showing that people vote 2-to-1 in favor of gay rights if they know just one person who is homosexual. This is a powerful piece of ammunition.

The other side’s rhetoric is still almost entirely emotion and fear-mongering, about what kind of damage will be visited upon theoretical children in theoretical gay families. The response needs to be a full on onslaught of exposure to real gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, and to their families. This is still an important tactical maneuver in gaining more ground in the fight for recognition and full legal legitimacy.

Posted in Personal Stories, Socio-politics.

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