Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Repeating History? See MILK And You Be The Judge

Believe it or not, I got out of the house tonight with a friend, away from the ever-present "Moooooommmmm! Where's my Wii remote?" and the "I'm trying to tune my bass! Be quiet, Little Man!" Away from the ever-popular, "Honey, have you seen my glasses/my car keys/the children anywhere???" Yes, mommy and a friend went to the movies, and even got a burger afterward! (Yes, we just might get snow in sunny So Cal yet!) We braved the 40 degree temps - yes, that IS cold, for Southern Californians. You can stop the mocking laughter now...) and saw MILK, the story of San Fran's City Supervisor, Harvey Milk. For those of you who don't recall, or for those of us who were kids at the time, Harvey was the first openly gay elected official in the nation. This was the time of Anita "Christian Bigot" Bryant, and remarkably, a time when laws were being passed in many, many states to allow the rights of gays and lesbians to be stripped away. This was the time, in my view, that served as the initiation of the Christian Right into politics. Gay activists like Harvey were trying to fight laws that would make it illegal to fire people on the basis of sexual orientation, laws that would allow the firing of teachers who were gay, and, get this, anyone who supported them. (Obviously the lessons of the McCarthy era were lost on Anita and her crowd.) Harvey unified the gay community and made activism come alive, not just in the Castro District but nationwide. He fought injustice and gave hope to millions of people nationwide. Then, like so many other great heroes, he was assasinated. (Remember Dan White and the Twinkie Defense? A travesty of justice.) This is a must-see film, and is a fantastic movie as filmmaking goes. An important film.

So, enough for the 1 minute Momma Politico movie review. The reason I was compelled to write about this movie tonight, the thing that struck me so forcefully in seeing this film, was the arguments being used to support the anti-gay measures. The rhetoric was, word for word, the same trash that was being used to fight Prop 8 here in California. The whole "protecting chilldren, protecting marriage" argument. Word. For. Word. Why wasn't this film released sooner? What a powerful educational tool it could have been before the November election! I am still appalled that there were enough bigoted, small-minded and scared people in this state to pass Prop 8. I know that in the long haul, the Constitutional rights of all Californians will be restored. This powerful film reminds us and makes clear the connections between Harvey's time and our own. A much needed reminder.

Have we come a long way in the battle for equal rights for all, including the GLBT community? Look no further than the incredibly talented host of The Rachel Maddow Show for an answer. Look no further than your neighbor and her girlfriend, or your co-worker and his partner. Thanks to the efforts of Harvey Milk and many, many nameless activists, our nation has come miles. But we are still living in a country that treats certain groups of people as second class citizens. The fact that my dear friends who've no sooner been given the right to marry have had that right stripped away in the blink of an eye tells me that we haven't come far enough. And Harvey's story brings that home because the logic behind the suppression of rights has yet to change.

See the movie. Take someone with you to see it. Tell people about it. And speak out for your family and friends. If you live in California, get your Prop 8 sign back out and display it in your window, as the battle is yet to be won. Keep fighting the good fight. Make this New Year a happy one by continuing to speak out on the issues you hold dear and continue to let your new president know what we expect of our country in regards to every issue. Just because the election is won, doesn't mean that it's time to relax...quite the opposite! Now is the time for our hard work to begin in earnest. I know you're up to the challenge.

Happiest of New Years to you and your loved ones. Thanks for reading and commenting. And may you and yours find the peace and fulfillment that your heart desires.