My name is Marc and I want to recruit you.
For those of you who have seen Milk, I am sure you will pick up on the reference. For those of you who have not, you must see it. First and most importantly, it is a magnificent film. Everything works. Sean Penn is amazing, truly astonishing… and so is Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin and James Franco. The entire cast is spot on. The direction by Gus Van Sant is brilliant and so is the beautiful score. I loved everything about this movie; yet at the same time it was hard not to feel an overwhelming sadness at how we seem to be moving backwards in terms of our acceptance and open mindedness. I was too young to know about Prop. 6, but let me just say that we seem to be fighting the same fight that was won back in the 70s… and this time, we are going back into the closet of repression and denial. California is supposed to be the most advanced, free thinking state in the country, but the debacle of Prop. 8 has shown us there is still a huge red line of ignorance and intolerance. It is shocking.
I vaguely remember Anita Bryant and I do remember her anti-gay crusade, but I had no idea how malicious she was and how much of an effort she made to travel across the country spouting what she said was G-d’s word. It was and is not. She was wrong, and those who supported Prop 8 are wrong. You do not have to like homosexuality or listen to Judy Garland. You do, however, have to support freedom and civil rights. If you don’t, you risk losing your own some day, for something as simple as being a lefty or liking brussel sprouts or the band Styx. We can no longer be quiet, because silence does equal death.
The importance of this film is obvious. The timing could not be more perfect, as people’s civil liberties and freedoms are once again being challenged, and in many states stripped away.
I am not a gay man… but I have many friends who are. And they are my friends because of the kind of people they are. They are generous and kind and make great parents and husbands and wives and companions… and I say this about all my friends. That is why they are my friends. I choose those people who make my life and hopefully the world a better place. I don’t judge people on the color of their skin or their orientation, but how they carry themselves and their character. That is not to say I am angel, far from it. I have biases and act in ways I do not always like, but I am a human being, seeking out a connection with other human beings. And this involves acceptance and tolerance and love. Hell, I have a million reasons why people might not want to hang with me, but thank goodness they go beyond a lot and see my true character.
There are people who do good and those who do bad… and this is true in every section of the world… in every race and creed and orientation. We cannot just make a blanket statement like all Arabs are terrorists, all whites are racist, all gays are deviants. It is simply not true and serves no purpose, other than to promote hate and separation. “Good” people make the world a better a place to live in, “bad” people seek to destroy it through greed or a quest for power. But even in this, there is no clear black and white delineation. We live in a world of mixed colors and complexities. But that is a discussion for another time and could keep us here for years.
My point is this, who you love and marry is a freedom and freedom cannot be selectively given… it is for one and all… and we live in the United States of America, where all men and women… all people are created equal, or at least they are supposed to be.
So show people that you are willing to speak up and step forward. Show people that you are not willing to have one group have their freedom’s stripped away. Once it starts, it will not stop. First it will be the gay community, then one by one, it will be any group who does not think or act in the way another group thinks they should. This is how genocides and wars start. So let’s show the world how a movement starts… a movement of peace and freedom and civility and love.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, communities across the country will be holding events centered around screenings of Milk and candlelight vigils. Sign up to be a leader or just find a group to support. This is a fight that we all need to take on. We can actually make the world a better place, just by showing up somewhere and seeing a film and gathering together as human beings. So be human and connect and love!