Friday night I went with several (straight) moms to the local movie theatre (really, that is how it is spelled "-tre") to see Milk. It starts with these haunting images - black and white films of police raids in which men are rounded up and placed in the back of vans. The first time you see Harvey Milk, brilliantly played by Sean Penn, he is speaking into a tape recorder. He clearly states as the tape begins recording it is only to be played upon his death.
Before the movie had started I warned one of the women that I was a cryer at movies and I expected to ball profusely. I had kleenex at the ready and was prepared for a good, hard cry. Crying about the hatred that fueled Milk and Mayor George Mascone's assassin, crying about the hope and optimism Milk had until the end, crying that he was so desperately needed since the California Prop. 6 fight of the 1970's (in which anyone gay or sympathized with gays couldn't teach in public schools) morphed into the Prop. 8 fight of today.
But I didn't cry. I didn't cry as the film graphically depicted the shooting at close range, at all of Milk's staff, friends and supporters - 30,000 of them - held candles the night of his shooting. I didn't cry as the postscript flashed on the screen and the bogus "Twinkie Defense" appeared under the murder's name and face.
I shook. I shook uncontrollably. I felt cold. I felt unbearably cold.
The following night was Saturday and I rushed over to the local community house to spend a few minutes at a friend's husband's surprise birthday party. I had helped my friend line up the space, even using my membership to the community house to get the reduced rental rate, and felt I should make an appearance even though Amazing Guy couldn't come (we didn't have a babysitter) and I would literally only know two people there.
So I charged into the house, smiled at the men hanging out along the grand staircase, walked through the room with the food and nodded at the men eating hoers d'ourves - saw a woman in the mix - and walked onto a huge wrap-around porch where my friend was moving some trash bags. I gave him a hug. He told me to find his husband.
I found the birthday boy, gave him a hug and was going to leave. My friend caught me at the door and introduced me to one of the lone straight women but she was heading out the door because she had left her kids alone without a sitter for the first time. Then my friend introduced me to a fellow who does similar work as me. We talked about foreclosures and housing policy (really) and then saw some guys dancing in another room to Madonna's Vogue. I kept looking into the room and then Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) came on and he said "Oh this is a fun one to dance to - come on!"
Suddenly I was dancing in a grand old house with a room full of gay men - some married (because that is legal in my state and has been for years), some not, some old, some young. And as I asked the DJ to play the following song I realized Harvey Milk's words from the the 1978 Hope speech recreated in the movie was true all around me:
"We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets ... We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions."
And while this song was playing, as with Laura Branigan's Gloria, Prince's Little Red Corvette and Madonna's Like a Prayer, I was sweating. Sweating and dancing.
Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky above then write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.
But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link as well as your comment. Just don't bother.