You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

Friday night, yet feels like a Saturday night. Looks like a pump, feels like a sneaker. Bill and I went to see Milk this afternoon in Chelsea. Sold out show at 2:30. An excellent movie, well done.

I can’t really say that I’m a big Sean Penn fan but I have utmost respect for him since playing Harvey Milk. James Franco, also someone I was ambivalent towards was quite good as well as hot. Emile Hersh played Cleve Jones and I had forgotten his role in the Harvey Milk story.

Cleve Jones is the creator of the Aids Memorial Quilt, aka the Names Project. The other day I posted in my Facebook page a statement from Harvey Milk, You Cannot Live on Hope Alone, which still brings a tear to my eye.

There were a few moments in the film that tears were rolling down my face. I knew where it was going to end and I was dreading it, but it was remarkably handled. Just so well made, Gus Van Sant did a commendable job.

Harvey Milk was a hero of mine. I feel one of his main points from his life was to get gay people out of the closet and destroy those myths. There is no shame, we are not monsters or child molesters. WE are your brothers and sisters, your children, your friends and co-workers.

For years, maybe centuries we have been told we were inferior, perverted, just because of whom we love. To find out that I was gay at the onset of puberty was an earth shattering moment for me.

I remember it perfectly. One night I was letting the dog out in our backyard and while I waited for him to do his business I looked at a newspaper waiting to be tied up and given to our neighbor for recycling.

There was an article that caught my eye, an article in the sports section about a footballer, Dave Kopay who had just come out of the closet and giving the NFL a big scare, if not society as a whole.

He cracked the myth of the limp wrested florist or hairdresser. Here was a football player who could probably beat up anyone in the room who called him a fag, coming out of the closet. I remember getting aroused reading it.

That is when I knew, when I had my ‘uh-oh’ moment that October night in 1976. As confusing as it felt for me, my life plans whatever they were at 14 years old, getting married and having kids was what was drilled into me, as confusing as that was, it also felt true.

I knew then, that this was the way I was, no choice involved. And really if you think there is a choice, at what moment do straight people make their decision to be straight?

It was painful and lonely for me. I did look it up in a dictionary and that was basically telling me I was abnormal, a deviant. I knew I wasn’t those things.

In 1976 there were no Gay/Straight Alliances in high schools and if there was, I was going to a catholic high school and there certainly wouldn’t be one on that campus. I eventually found my footing and was forced to live a double life, or a lie from the age of 14.

Not very easy and the terror of being found out always loomed in my mind. I was found out once by someone in my immediate family who said I was disgusting and perverted and would tell mom and dad. I hyperventilated as the room spun and saw that my world could be destroyed that very moment.

Somehow I got through that and as I far as I know, they didn’t say anything. Eventually I was outed. My father found magazines under my bed, but unlike my brothers with Playboy and Penthouse, I had Blueboy and Mandate.

My father told my mother who told my brother then to my sister and then to my brother and when I was confronted I admitted it. I knew I couldn’t live there anymore.

I wasn’t kicked out and they didn’t want me to leave, but I knew I couldn’t live my life the way I wanted to in Lodi. I was in Hoboken more and more, hanging out with an intelligent group of college graduates and was more comfortable there.

That was about 8 years after I found out about myself in 1976. Almost 2 years later Harvey Milk was reported on initially as being the first Gay person elected to public office and it was national news in January 1978.

On November 27 1978 he was assassinated in City Hall, as was Mayor George Moscone by former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.

As terrible and horrible as Harvey Milk’s murder was, I felt equally bad for the Moscone family. George Moscone was a progressive Mayor and who knows how far both he and Harvey would have gone if only they had lived.

I highly recommend this movie. It was so good I would probably see it again in a theater if the opportunity presented itself once more.

After Harvey Milk’s assassination 30 years and one day later Harvey Milk lives on.

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