Tuesday, September 11, 2012


"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
--Harvey Milk

Tonight I watched the film "Milk" starring Sean Penn for the second time. I had two thoughts: I wonder how accurate the movie is to the actual events; and I think Harvey Milk is my new hero.

As a biographical movie it is pretty straightforward, nothing flashy or particularly novel. But the story itself is fascinating and powerful to point of being able to persuade those against gay rights to at least reconsider how their stance affects lives. Sadly, though, those who need to see this film the most will very likely not watch it, and probably for the same reasons they hold such a view in the first place.

I had a similar realization a few weeks ago when I had a conversation with a family member concerning gay marriage. If it were not for the familial relationship we have, this person probably would not have listened to my point of view. This person has effectively built a wall around them keeping out those with opposing views as a way of "protecting" them from, I presume, the influence of Satan. Virtually all their social interactions, for the last several years at least, have been almost exclusively with people from their church. Having realized that I am likely the only person they know with such liberal views about marriage equality, I almost feel an obligation to be open about it so they have at least one person that they personally know who thinks this way. As Harvey Milk said (at least in the movie), "They vote for us 2 to 1 if they know they know 1 of us."

Personalizing the argument makes it harder for moderates to discriminate. Bigots will always be bigots, with few exceptions. But those who preach compassion on Sundays will have a tougher time of it if they personally know a homosexual. I know this because this is exactly what happened to me. And every time I see a film like "Milk" or talk to someone who is opposed to gay marriage I am reminded of my former thinking, which only bolsters my resolve.

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