I went out with some friends tonight to see the new movie Milk at a nifty old (yet well preserved) theater near work. The film depicts the elements of Harvey Milk‘s personal and public life that lead him to become a political leader in San Francisco and activist in the gay rights movement of the 1970s. I had heard of Milk and knew that he was important, but I am sadly lacking in my queer history knowledge, so prior to watching the film, I did not know very much about anything that happened in it.

I was surprised at both how much things have improved for non-heterosexual Americans over the past three decades, and also by how many more barriers to true equality have been erected by those who fear it. The movement to defeat California’s Proposition 6 in 1978 was dealing with much more overt hatred and fear than those fighting Proposition 8 this year, and yet they managed to win against all odds. Those of us who do not remember or were not a part of the anti-Prop 6 movement need to sit down and figure out how they did what they did and where the anti-Prop 8 movement went wrong if we are going to find a way to gain back the hard-fought equal rights that were taken away from families in California this fall.

When I first began coming out to friends and colleagues, I was more afraid of their disapproval or being shunned than of any fear of my life. However, after having the violence that was perpetrated against gays and lesbians in the 1970s so vividly depicted before my eyes, I realized that I am lucky that I don’t have to live in fear of my life because of who I am. And yet, the fear and hatred and violence that is still perpetuated against my queer brothers and sisters in this country makes me hesitate. Am I really as safe as I think I am? What are the odds that I will cross paths with someone who will hate me and wish to harm me because of who I love?

I don’t have the strength to devote my life to fighting for equal rights like Milk did, but I can stand up and speak my mind. I am a citizen of this country. I have every right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as you do. You are free to do as you wish, believe what you will, as long as it does not hinder my rights, and I the same. Love it or leave it — that is what it means to be a Citizen of the United States of America.

2 thoughts on “milk”

  1. Amen to all of your thoughts here, Anna. To borrow a phrase from those fighting to overturn Prop 8, you didn’t get to vote on my marriage (and in the end, neither did I, but that’s a different story).

    In another different story, though, know that holding on to my beliefs on this issue—continuing to believe that everyone should have the right to love, and to marry, whomever they chose, that marriage is a commitment between two consenting adults (period)—over the past few months has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I did it; and I’m back to feeling that it’s right, beyond knowing.

    I guess I’m just saying that, had I allowed events to change my views, it would not have been out of fear or hate, but out of pain. It’s probably more complex than simple fear and hatred for some who would take this right away, and those fighting for the right would do well to remember that. More complex? Yes; life generally is.

  2. Anna:

    The saddest condition, in my opinion, is that you even have to *consider* the possibility of being shunned or having disapproval heaped upon you for being who you are.

    As for the meat of your post; I feel that it’s none of the government’s business what occurs in anyone’s personal life and, frankly, it isn’t the role of government to regulate any portion of life that is peaceful and nonharmful to others.

    That’s just my take though, and its probably the personal Libertarian talking.

    But what’s more is that I personally feel that the social discrimination placed on non-heterosexuals is very much akin to that which was placed on non-Caucasians in the mid-20th century (and present day?); and yet, somehow, I feel that I am in the minority to see the comparison in just such a manner.

    In that respect, could someone please explain to me how a “Domestic Partnership” or any other so-called “marriage equivalent” short of full, unrestricted marriage isn’t Jim Crow in nature?

    Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. It is that simple and that’s all there is to it, in my opinion.

    Or, at least, that’s how it *should* be.

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