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Posts Tagged ‘harvey milk

PENN’S TWO-FACED WITH GAYS

From Page Six:

NOT all gays are gaga over Sean Penn‘s portrayal of homosexual martyr Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant‘s biopic “Milk.”

In an Advocate.com article, writer James Kirchick slams Penn for his political leanings, arguing that any adulation he receives from the gay community should be tempered because of his affection for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and Cuban strongman Raul Castro.

Chávez and Castro are guilty of flagrant human-rights abuses, Kirchick writes: “Gay rights are human rights, as Milk said, and Penn discredits both when he rationalizes illiberal ideologies as ‘anti-imperialist’ and rushes to the defense of thugs who posture as victims of the West.”

Penn has long been a supporter of the dictator duo. In this month’s issue of The Nation, he lavishly praises both Chávez and Castro after paying them a recent visit. He asserts, for example, “It’s true, Chávez may not be a good man. But he may well be a great one.”

Kirchick’s story includes a quote from Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen, who says: “That Sean Penn would be honored by anyone, let alone the gay community, for having stood by a dictator who put gays into concentration camps is mind-boggling.”

Penn’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, tells Page Six: “Kirchick’s commentary about Sean Penn’s cover story neglects to include that Penn in fact addressed the issue of oppression toward homosexuals in Cuba in his full essay which was printed on the Huffington Post site on Dec. 1.

“The Nation printed an adapted excerpt only, but made it clear that the full article was on Huffington. James Kirchick didn’t do his homework.”

Written by kickingalion

December 17, 2008 at 4:17 pm

30 Years Later

Today I saw the movie Milk, starring Sean Penn.  Penn was fabulous, along with the entire cast, superb acting, and Gus Van Sant really caught San Francisco of the 70s.  The story had drama, comedy and an endearing romance. 

As wonderful as the movie was — and I believe everyone should see it — I couldn’t help but feel depressed.  Thirty years later there are still the same chants (Get Out Of The Bars & Into The Streets), the same fight for Equality, and the Christians still see us as perverts who are out to get their children. 

Thirty years, several hundred deaths and countless protests later and the US still doesn’t have a national Hate Crimes Bill passed or legislation regarding discrimination in housing or employment to include sexual orientation.  How much longer will we be denied? 

Maybe the Gays of San Franciso in the 1970s had it right:

CIVIL RIGHTS OR CIVIL WAR. 

Written by kickingalion

December 1, 2008 at 12:12 am

Gay rights battle of 30 years ago still echoes

By Maureen Dowd, New York Times Columnist

LOS ANGELES — Dianne Feinstein is not sure she’ll ever be able to watch the movie Milk, even though she’s in it.

There is 1978 footage of a stricken Feinstein in the opening minutes of the new Gus Van Sant biopic of Harvey Milk, her colleague on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the first openly gay elected official in American history. (Sean Penn soars as Milk.)

“I was the one who found his body,” the California senator told me Friday, on route from the airport to her home in San Francisco. “To get a pulse, I put my finger in a bullet hole. It was a terrible, terrible time in the city’s history.”

The movie, chronicling the rancorous California fight of gay activists against church-backed forces in the ’70s to prevent discrimination against gays, is opening amid a rancorous California fight of gay activists against church-backed forces to prevent discrimination against gays.

Milk was gunned down by Dan White, who had served on the board with Milk and Feinstein. White, an Irish Catholic former policeman and Vietnam vet, opposed Milk’s equal rights initiatives for gays. He resigned and immediately wanted his seat back, a move Milk helped persuade the mayor, George Moscone, to reject. White climbed through a City Hall basement window with a loaded gun and shot down Moscone and then Milk. (In the “Twinkie defense,” White argued that junk food had left him stressed out.)

I asked Feinstein, who became mayor after the tragedy, if she would see the movie.

“It’s very painful for me,” she replied. “It took me seven years before I could sit in George Moscone’s chair. It took me a long time to talk about it.”

This month, gays who supported Barack Obama had the bittersweet experience of seeing some of the black and Latino voters who surged to the polls to vote Democratic also vote for Proposition 8, which turned gay “I dos” into “You can’ts.” About 20,000 gay couples had exchanged vows before Prop 8 passed, backed by a coalition that included Mormon and Catholic opponents.

Now that donor information can be found on the Internet, gay activists have called for boycotts of anyone who contributed to the law’s passing, from businesses small (El Coyote restaurant in L.A., where Sharon Tate had her last meal and Fabio and George Clooney nearly came to blows) to large (Utah ski resorts and Park City, Utah, theaters where Sundance movies are shown).

Feinstein felt sure that gays who have been married in the state since June are still married. “You can’t redact it,” she said. “You can’t blot it out. It’s so intrinsic to the Constitution that you cannot remove it by a vote of the people.”

Jerry Brown, the California attorney general who is also featured in the archival reels in Milk from his days as governor, agreed: “I believe those are valid,” he told me, saying that he will argue in the appeal before the state Supreme Court that there cannot be “a retroactive invalidation of these marital contracts.”

Brown harked back to the defeat of the Milk-era Prop 6, which sought to root out gay teachers from California public schools. (“If it were true that children mimic their teachers, we’d have a hell of a lot more nuns running around,” Milk says in the movie.)

“Any time you take an issue that has such deep feelings connected to it and you frame it in terms of a political initiative,” Brown said, “you drain out some of the anger and convert it to an issue that people can approach in a more reasonable, open-minded way.”

Feinstein agreed: “I think as more and more people have gay friends, gay associations, see gay heroism, that their views change.”

The gays were outfoxed by their opponents. In both Prop 6 in 1978 and this year’s Prop 8, the specter of children being converted to a gay orientation was raised. Feinstein said the TV ad of Prop 8 supporters insinuating that “gay marriage would be taught in school really hurt.” (“I can marry a princess,” a pigtailed girl told her mom in the ad.)

“I think people are beginning to look at it differently; I know it’s happened for me,” Feinstein said of gay marriage. “I started out not supporting it. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen the happiness of people, the stability that these commitments bring to a life. Many adopted children who would have ended up in foster care now have good solid homes and are brought up learning the difference between right and wrong. It’s a very positive thing.”

I e-mailed Larry Kramer, the leading activist for gay rights in the era that followed Milk’s, to get his read on Prop 8. (In 1983, I interviewed Kramer about the new scourge of AIDS, and he read me a list from a green notebook of 37 friends who had died.)

“DON’T WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO HAVE RIGHTS?” he e-mailed back, blessedly cantankerous. “I AM ASHAMED OF YOU THAT YOU HAD TO ASK ME THAT QUESTION.”

© New York Times News Service

Written by kickingalion

November 25, 2008 at 5:39 am

Discussion Group: Harvey Milk

To all the disenfranchised congregants from Catholic churches who, like me, finally realize – in the aftermath of Prop 8 – that the Catholic Church DOES NOT LOVE US, please come to the Church of the Master, a Lutheran church on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The pastor there married us, and he’s a loving, intelligent man of God who cherishes the loving bonds between all couples.

After mass on Sunday, 12/7/08, the pastor wants to have a discussion group addressing the film “Milk” and its relevance to Prop 8. (He and his wife were actually there in San Francisco during Harvey Milk’s time.) Come! Join us. Google the church for the address. It’s basically Santa Monica and Westwood.

Peace and love my gay brothers and sisters! And all our loving straight brothers and sisters too!

–This was sent to me anonymously

Written by kickingalion

November 24, 2008 at 6:14 pm

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How director Gus Van Sant finally got to make his biopic of the first openly gay politician elected to U. S. office

by Kevin Williamson

LOS ANGELES–Relevancy is luck. Just ask Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant, who has wanted to make a biopic about slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk for more than a decade.

He’s not alone. Some of Hollywood’s most powerful actors and filmmakers have also circled the material through the years. At one point, Robin Williams was set to portray Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to U. S. public office in San Francisco in the 1970s; he was later shot to death by disgruntled city supervisor Dan White. And yet only now –at a point in which Milk’s politically charged era uncannily mirrors America’s present day –has the film been made.

Simply entitled Milk, it stars Sean Penn alongside a cast that includes James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin. It opens Wednesday in limited release then goes wide across Canada next month.

Book-ended by a tape recording Milk made in the event of his murder, the film charts his rise from unfocused businessman living in the Castro–a haven to the city’s gay population –to a political titan.

He ultimately clashed on the national stage with right-wing firebrand Anita Bryant, defeating an initiative that would have banned gays from teaching in never imagined his film would parallel current events. Chief among them? Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage California voted in earlier this month.

“A year ago, there was no (Barack) Obama, no Sarah Palin, no Proposition 8. All these things sort of came together. Prop8 is an amazing coincidence. And Obama is so Harvey-like, to me. Not only his themes, but also now that he will be in office soon, when he talks about alternative energy and with a real interest and a keen interest that sort of surpasses even Clinton. You think, ‘Wow, maybe the hip president is now in office.'”

As for what similarities exist between Palin and Bryant, “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black offers this view: “Two beauty queens who have a lot of interest in their hair-dos and what goes on in people’s bedrooms.”

Van Sant first got involved with “Milk” in the early 1990s. At that time, Oliver Stone was expected to make the film -entitled “The Mayor of Castro Street” -his follow- up to his controversial 1991 epic, “JFK.” Williams was even signed for the lead.

“Oliver decided not to do it all of a sudden,” remembers Van Sant, who took over the project and spent more than a year working on it before it again collapsed. “I couldn’t pull off an Oliver Stone script with the way I thought of the story and the Castro and the way I thought of Harvey.”

“A year ago, there was no (Barack) Obama, no Sarah Palin, no Proposition 8. All these things sort of came together. Prop 8 is an amazing coincidence. And Obama is so Harvey-like to me. Not only his themes, but also now that he’s in office, or will be in office, when he talks about alternative energy and with a real interest and a keen interest that sort of surpasses even Clinton. You think, ‘Wow, maybe the hip president is now in office.’ ”

As for what similarities exist between Palin and Bryant, Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black offers this view: “Two beauty queens who have a lot of interest in their hair-dos and what goes on in people’s bedrooms.”

Van Sant first got involved with Milk in the early 1990s. At that time, Oliver Stone was expected to make the film–entitled The Mayor of Castro Street–his follow-up to his controversial 1991 epic JFK. Williams was even signed for the lead.

“Oliver decided not to do it all of a sudden,” remembers Van Sant, who took over the project and spent more than a year working on it before it again collapsed.

“I couldn’t pull off an Oliver Stone script with the way I thought of the story and the Castro and the way I thought of Harvey.”

Years later, he attempted to revive the film, this time with Penn in mind to star.

“I tried to get the movie going again sometime after ‘Good Will- Hunting.’ Sean was going to play Harvey and Tom Cruise was going to play Dan White. But it was a very brief relationship because I was a horrible producer. I didn’t bug the agents enough.”

Then, last year, Black’s screenplay -which wasn’t based on previous material -was brought to Van Sant’s attention. Almost immediately, both the director and Penn were back on board. Cruise again flirted with playing White, as did Matt Damon. Finally, Penn suggested Brolin.

Again, the timing was uncanny. “‘No Country for Old Men’ hadn’t come out then, so he wasn’t the Josh we know today,” Van Sant says. “We cast him and then they won the Academy Award.”

Expectedly, Oscar buzz is already building for the film and for Penn, who was reported to have texted his former spouse after performing his first same-sex kiss with Franco.

“Yeah, he called Madonna,” Van Sant confirms. “They had to kiss for four takes and each take was one minute, so they were really, really long kisses.”

Madonna’sreaction? “‘Good for you.'”

Written by kickingalion

November 24, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Coverage of Milk Premieres

Access Hollywood’s collection of video clips (includes protestors & vigil) (San Francisco).

Hollywood.com photo gallery (Los Angeles)

Article:  Stars, No on 8 Supporters Turn Out For SF Milk Premiere.

Video of Sean Penn arriving at LA Milk Premiere.

Written by kickingalion

November 14, 2008 at 3:50 pm

One Voice For Equality: Candlelight Vigil

In honor of the assassination of Harvey Milk, and the passing of Prop 8, we invite you to a candlelight vigil celebrating the love and equality that is deserved by all.

A non-violent and peaceful protest November 27, 2008:  7PM PST

Corner of Santa Monica & San Vicente.

Link arms, hold candles and showing signs of peace.

Details:  onevoiceforequality@gmail.com.

Written by kickingalion

November 13, 2008 at 3:58 pm