“Milk” is a film that looks at the civil rights from gay movement perspective. The subject in the film is the late, San Francisco homosexual activist and politician who was serving during the 1970s, Harvey Milk. The main character in the movie is Sean Penn. The movie is a love story, a civil right and sociopolitical commentary. Harvey Milk was agitating for fair treatment of homosexuals. He had a shop on the Castro Street in Eureka valley, which turns to be the haven for the discrimination victims. For these, Harvey Milk became popular convincing him to join politics. The film shows the different characters of Milk; grass root activism, a regular person who tries to promote those who face discrimination around him and ex-street hustler who built AIDS memorial project. The gay activists are asking for similar legal status to that are currently available to atheists, sterile couples, and child bearing couples. His argument counters that of the antigay activists who believe that marriage should be a reserve for heterosexuals since God intended it to be that way, and this help promote societal interest by encouraging stable, child-bearing, and traditional families (Andryszewski, 2000).

Plot of the film

The films open by showing the true gay history that was shocking to discover. The history clips were scant reminder of the 1950s and 1960s that gays went through in that the lesbians and transsexual were facing violence, harassment, arrest, humiliation, and physical abuse by people that were to defend them; police and judicial authorities. The film shows true newsreel images of bar raids in search of gays. It shows the mistreatment that gays face in the hands of the government authorities. The arrest of gays for flimsy reasons such as patronizing gay bars and embarrassing news headlines such as “Den of perverts busted” were the order of the day.  Those arrested had their names published on the papers the following day, and since no one wanted to associate with them, they lost their jobs, and, therefore, were unemployable. The film reveals the chilling social injustice that homosexuals had to experience. The shows adhere to real live situation that the homosexuals had to experience. Milk is recording his will in the film nine days to his assassination (November 18, 1978), which is not true and is just an addition in the film. The film shows Milk’s 40th birthday in New York City in 1970 and his first encounter with his young lover, Scott Smith. This is not true in the real story.

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Milk and Smith move to San Francisco in their push for change in the illusion that they will be more acceptable there. This is a creation of the film and was not true. Harvey Milk rises to become the leader of the gay community in the Castro Street in Eureka valley of San Francisco, which was predominantly gay neighborhood. This is true in the film and in real life situation of Harley Milk because it portrays his true character. Milk shows a frail human being with idealistic deviance and as a well-informed politician, the roles that he plays so well.  In his campaigns for the position of the supervisor in San Francisco, he says that he never considered himself an aspirant but as part of the movement that was the candidate, which was the gay rights movement. The film shows Milk as one who loves attention and that most of the riots were stage managed to help him gain fame. He uses mercenary like behavior to gain fame in that he asks his aid to stir a mob to a near riot, the aid then leads the rioters to the steps of the city hall. Once they are there, Milk emerges to calm the crowd down and score points through media interviews (Stern, 2009). This is a case where the film goes a stray from the real life situation. Smith who was working as the campaign manager for Milk resigns because of Milk’s devotion to politics. Milk meets Jack Lira who was sweet natured young man but seemed unbalanced because him sensing that he cannot Milk political devotion he decides to hang himself. This is fictional and is not true to what really happened.

Harvey Milk was so influential among the gay community that incase of a riot; he was the one to calm the rioters. This is true about Harvey Milk because he was having exceptional organizational ability. There was witch-hunt ordinance sponsored by John Briggs to ban homosexual teachers from California schools, which Milk’s associates fought hard to oppose. There was a conservative movement in Dade County, Florida headed by Anita Bryant seeking the repeal of the gay rights ordinance with their main theme “save our children”.  Milk as a member of board of supervisors in San Francisco helped enact a gay rights bill, and defeat of statewide proposition 6. By that time, he was the San Francisco city supervisor and his defense of gay colleagues was causing bad blood between him and his working colleagues (Stern, 2009). This eventually led to Milk’s assassination on the morning of November 27, 1978 by Dan White who also killed Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco city hall. White entered the city hall through the basement window and therefore was able to conceal the gun from meat detectors. This is not true to what exactly happened during the assassination. The judge gave White a lighter sentence because of his anti-gay attitude. During the trial, the defense was claiming that Dan White ate a lot of junk food and so was experiencing depression, which made him kill Milk. Later after paroling, White confessed that the murder of Milk and Moscone was premeditated, and he was to murder Willie Brown of state assembly and fellow supervisor, Carol Silver because of their association with the homosexuals. The final scene shows thousands holding a candlelight vigil in the San Francisco for Moscone and Milk. This is actual picture of what transpired after the twin assassination.

The fight for the gay rights changed the politics of the Castro Street in the film and in real life 

Its result was the formation of an association to fight for the individuals’ rights, and daughters of bilitis who was championing the gay rights, and fighting against police harassment in San Francisco (Stern, 2009). There were arrests of gays by the authorities for public sex in the Castro Street. California politicians came to recognize the growing influence of homosexuals in the city and, therefore, started attending their meetings. After several meetings, Willie Brown had a proposal for legalizing sex between two consenting adults, but it never got the council’s approval. This political freedom led to Milk joining active politics and vied for the civic seat through which he tried changing the policies that he did not want (Stern, 2009).

During the campaigns, the reception of Milk by the gay political establishment was very cold; Jim Foster along time gay activist did not want newcomers and was seeking the endorsement as a city supervisor. Foster reminded Milk of an old saying that goes “you do not dance unless you put up the chairs” and he had never seen him put up the chairs (Stern, 2009). This made Milk so furious at Foster’s comments, and this was the start their antagonistic relationship. The gay bar owners who were tired of police harassment and felt that Foster took a timid approach, endorsed Milk for the position of the city supervisor (Nichols, 2010).

During the vigorous campaigns, milk inexperience was showing because he was not able to raise enough funds for neither campaign, support nor staff (Nichols, 2010). Milk on his campaign had to depend on the message of sound financial management, and urge to promote individual businesses over large government corporations. Through his support, rearrangement of the supervisors’ election framework came to fruition thus allowing district ballots rather than citywide ballot. This change led to reduction of the influence of money on the campaigns, and that led to promotion of neighborhood influence on the choice of representative in the government (Nichols, 2010). Milk was also managing a socially liberal platform that was against government interference in private sex matters and help push for the legalization of marijuana. During the campaigns, milk had a lot of press time because of his fiery nature, flamboyant speeches, and perceptive media skills. The tallying of the election results showed that he came 10th out of 32 candidates who were vying (Nichols, 2010).

The film’s aim

The films shows all generations and generations to come that their differences should be a combining factor other than a dividing factor. To this effect, I can learn that people need to respect and celebrate their differences. Milk’s passion for politics was a great unifying factor and a sign that, with all the differences, people can still stay together. Milk participation in politics was an indication that the modern politics is about sharing and that curiosity and love are the motor and energy that propel one to success (Nichols, 2010).

The breezy speeches by Milk showed his outrage with things, as they were, especially the mistreatment of gays (Nichols, 2010). However, Milk’s passion for the social change went hand in hand with his long-term ambition to vie for a political office. He made jokes to hostile straight audiences, and this created a bigger challenge to the gay men on the streets. He had to come up with a way in which his campaigns for gay rights were concerned with accommodation rather than confrontation. This adheres to the truth being that the homosexuals are a minority and therefore we expect opposition from the straight or the heterosexual.

From the film, we can learn the virtue of being principled as manifested by Harvey Milk. The film teaches that it requires those who can stand for what they believe in whatever the circumstances. Many people like Harvey Milk out there can change the world to a better place to live. “Milk” is a nonspecific story that gives the global view of the problems that people encounter in their day-to-day life, but we do not have an idea on how we can share them. In most cases, everyone wants others to behave how they do which may not be the right. However, it important to note that no one has answers for everything and, therefore, should learn to embrace each other (Andryszewski, 2000).


From the film, I learn to respect the right of every individual. Violence towards homosexuals is against the law, for it interferes with their right of association. Everyone must be able to have a choice on what best suit his or her lifestyles (Andryszewski, 2000). Intimidation of the homosexuals has resulted in suffering among the gays and; therefore, there is a need for openness to help share problems sharing and, thus help in arriving at amicable solution. The gay men in their fight for acceptance need to consider ways of correcting the misconceptions associated with their behavior. In that way, they need to form public awareness groups, to allow the public chance to understand the homosexuals better (Andryszewski, 2000). The film uses historical pictures inorder to win public sympathy for the homosexuals.

I have also learnt the need to take care or being mindful of others of others. Informing the homosexuals about the risk of contacting diseases should be a priority of public health professionals. Therefore, it requires public health promotion to inform the homosexuals the dangers involved when in this kind of relationship, and how to protect themselves (Nichols, 2010). This will result in reduction of the spread of communicable disease such as AIDS, STI, herpes and many more. The health promotion program should also focus on the hygiene of the gays. They should maintain high hygiene standards to avoid the spread of infections from one partner to another (Andryszewski, 2000). The film leaves out the topic on health, which is very important for the continued healthy living of the homosexuals.

In conclusion, the homosexuals need acceptance as other members of the community because there is freedom of choice and association. Therefore, it is not a crime to choose to be straight or bisexual. The more we accept them, the better it will be to help safeguard the common good of every member of the society. In this way, cases of violence, isolation, discrimination, and harassment because of ones sexual orientation will be outdated. Harvey Milk had the tenacity, will, and determination to fight for the justice, freedom, and equality of the gay and lesbian community thus ensured that no one would do harm to them. Milk had an amazing organizational ability, and a martyr for the gay community interest. He liked joking that if a bullet ever enters his brain, it will destroy every closet door in the country, and that is how his assassination came to occur.

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