Thanks, Gays…

harvey-milkChris and I saw “Milk” on Sunday afternoon at The Castro.  It was very good – amazing even.  Though as a nearly-native and current San Franciscan, I was occasionally jarred by background minutiae – for example, noting that a MUNI bus in the background was the wrong color scheme for the era or traveling a route that didn’t exist back then; or seeing people I recognize in the crowd scenes (they used locals as extras during filming, so I saw several vague acquaintances from the gym or just from out-and-about…).

It remains very difficult for me to relive this particular moment in history.  I was a freshman in high school when Harvey Milk and George Moscone were murdered.  I remember it vividly; sitting in the bleachers at lunch time, hearing the news on somebody’s boombox.  It was just a week-and-half after the People’s Temple’s mass-suicides and murders in Jonestown and rumors were flying that the two events were related.  How much more shocking the truth turned out to be… Even today, when I see footage of Dianne Feinstein announcing to reporters that the Moscone and Milk had been shot and killed, I feel the same shock and overwhelming sadness that I felt thirty years ago…

But I think what struck me most about seeing “Milk” was how much it reminded me of something I so often take for granted – that, as a gay man today, I’ve got it pretty good.  I won’t get arrested for going to a gay bar; I can’t be fired from my job for being gay; I can’t be tossed out of my apartment because I’m gay; I have access to the same rights and responsibilities as married straight couples in the state of California (yes, it’s not marriage – but we’ll get there…); my chances of being attacked for holding hands with my partner are, though not non-existent, substantially lower than in the old days.

Essentially I can live my life as I am, with a partner I love very much, without being persecuted or punished.  Which, compared to thirty or forty years ago, is pretty heady stuff.  I suppose it’s one of the clearest signs of how far we’ve come that I can take all of these things for granted (though as we learned when Prop 8 passed, complacency will bite you in the ass…)

And it’s thanks to the many, many gay men and lesbians who came before me, who did big and groundbreaking things like running for office and winning…  or smaller but no less groundbreaking things like coming out to their families and their friends.  So, a hearty thanks to all of the gays who blazed the path forward for me and all the other whippersnappers…

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One response to “Thanks, Gays…

  1. I second that emotion. Needless to say, there are heroes among us.

    Joe

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