Harvey Milk, Sean Penn, body language

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Last night my friends, Ellen, Judith and I went to see the new Sean Penn movie about Harvey Milk. It was so well done and so moving that the audience clapped at the end. It was a difficult movie to watch at times. I love movies and movies that make us socially conscious are so rare. This movie might not align with your feelings about the rights of gays, but I challenge you even if you choose not to see the movie to at least examine Harvey rights human rights work. Since this is a body language blog I could also recommend the movie for the extraordinary Oscar worthy performance of Sean Penn. Again the movie may be difficult to watch, but it can move you to think.
Personally, this movie caused me to reflect on my friend Roy and how much his life changed when he was fully “out.” How much joy and freedom he felt at being all Roy all the time. He was so happy being fully himself. People like Harvey Milk made that freedom possible, loving Roy so much I am so grateful for that. I am crying as I write this, because the movie made me feel for all those people living in secret. How horrible to live a half life, how hard to hide a part of yourself whenever you are in public. Those of us that don’t have to do that have no idea how hard that must be for gay people. To have to “act” and be aware of you body language and what you say at work, at a store, at a restaurant.
I remember back in the eighties being in Piedmont Park with a group of friends, all gay men. I was walking with my friend John. At that time he had been with his partner 6 years. (John is still with him over 20 years later as a matter of fact.) John noticed a straight couple holding hands and he whispered to me sadly, “I would love to be able to walk in this park holding hands with my love.” I have a photo from that day. It’s me and a group of some of the guys standing in a fountain with our arms around each other smiling. We made a joke of the movie, ‘Three Coins in a fountain” and called the photo “a blonde and five queers in a fountain.” Except for John, all the men in the photo died of AIDS, including my best friend Roy.
Roy was 29 when he died.

The movie also made me recall what happened with the ignorance and prejudice against gays in the fight against AIDs. There were so many needless delays in the fight against the disease. How horrific that foolish belief that it was only affecting Gay people, how insane notion that it was a punishment for them, that they deserved it. It allowed people to ignore it. It gave them permission to think it wouldn’t effect them so they didn’t have to take action. We forget we are all equal that we are all connected to each other. We must remember we are on a very small planet.
There is scene in the movie where someone tells Milk. “I know what you are against, but what are you for?” So I ask you, my dear readers “What are you for?”
As the movie ended I wept for the loss of Harvey Milk. I wondered if Harvey Milk, who was so passionate about Gay rights, so passionate about human rights had lived would he have helped the US government take action, to give money to fight AIDS more quickly? Most people don’t know that the government original plan was to corral all the people with AIDs into camps. Yes, camps. Perhaps they felt that they could get away with it because no one would stop the government from taking gay people out their homes and hospitals to isolate them.
The movie reminds us that one person can make a difference. It made me see that loss of one person who can make a difference and does not have the opportunity to keep working is tragic. Watch the movie and let me know what you thought of it.
And while you’re at it watch the old black and white classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It reminds all of us that we make a difference through are actions every day. If you watch that movie make sure you notice the body language in the telephone scene with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.