I just finished watching the Oscar-winning biopic Milk (yeah, yeah, I’m behind; I know), and my arms are still covered in goosebumps, my throat still choked with tears. It’s a powerful film –melodramatic at times– and what makes it the most powerful is how easily it could be taking place now. Blink and it’s like thirty-one years haven’t passed since Harvey Milk was shot. And obviously that resonance is part of the film’s message: The battle against Proposition 6 then is absolutely supposed to remind viewers of Proposition 8.
For all the strides made, and all the victories won, the LGBT community is still considered by many Americans to be deviant, other, and not worthy of equal representation and protection under the law. And I still don’t understand why. If we judged every citizen by what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom… the halls of government would be empty, there would be no one teaching the schools. And, yet, so many people see fit to judge gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens… to dub them people who don’t deserve marriages or the ability to adopt children or, yes, even the right to be portrayed on TV.
I often stumble upon messages to that effect. Not as much as the pro-gay, positive feedback, but still enough to make me sad. I can’t believe that, in this day and age, such prejudice is still so… normal. I can’t wrap my mind around how people think that saying “Why can’t gays have their own show instead of ruining ours?” or “I don’t want to see them on my TV,” or “I have a friend who is a lesbian, but I still don’t want the gay storyline” (A.k.a the “Some of My Best Friends Are…” Defense.) is okay. It’s like…dude. DUDE. Do you even hear yourself?
I’m a woman, and I’m not white. All I have to do is substitute one of those factors into one of the above assertions and it’s easily, obviously, a sexist or racist statement. The kind of statement that, even if people believe them, someone probably wouldn’t make in public anymore. So why is it okay to say the same things with an anti-gay slant?
And then there’s the ever-popular add-on of “and I know I’m not the only person that feels this way.” As if people know they have to cocoon their hatred with the assurance that others share it. As if that gives them some kind of validity. Well, hundreds of years ago, the majority of people thought the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. That didn’t make them right.
And eventually, folks got the message that the world was round and that, gasp, heaven forbid, not everything revolved around it.
That’s why I’m glad that movies like Milk are made, even if the people who would benefit from watching them the most will never give them a try. Because it’s chilling to see that the more things change, the more they remain the same. That the fight for equality is never over, even when we have a blracial president and several states legalizing same-sex marriage.
Milk is food for thought. Hauntingly so.
And maybe, eventually, folks will get the message.