Well I finally got to see the movie, “Milk” last night. It was with an eclectic group of straight and gay, Christian and not. And after the movie we had some good conversation together.
For those of you not familiar with the movie, the basic story is that of Harvey Milk the first openly gay individual to be elected to public office as Supervisor in the Castro district of San Francisco in the late 1970’s. The context in which Harvey pursued a place in public office was the repeal of anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation. In particular, these efforts were publicly endorsed and advanced by evangelical Christian Anita Bryant among others.
I had many conflicting emotions as I watched the film.
I could not help but lament the reminder of the toxic combination of fear and power – and the past and present demonstrations of how Christians capitulate to these drivers and motivators.
I could not help but feel deep concern and outrage for the replay of the kinds of events and experiences in Milk’s time with the current events in places like Uganda.
Fear is too dominant. Playing on stereotypes and assumptions and mischaracterizations sadly continues. Demanding with a sense of righteous entitlement to have it ‘your way’ has not given way to humility.
I’ll never be a politician. I’m not an activist. I know the issues are complex ~ and I don’t pretend to offer simplistic answers to the dilemmas of power in a pluralistic context.
But I do see the example of Jesus. I do see the Lord of the Universe empty himself, take the role of a servant, choose love over fear, and promote justice.
Regardless of what you believe theologically about homosexual behaviour, we should imitate Christ’s example as we engage a film like “Milk”, as we consider today’s propositions and legislative issues, and as we look at global justice for glbtq people.
Humble ourselves. Serve. Choose love over fear. And promote justice.
Harvey Milk was an imperfect man. But as Dianne Feinstein has said, “His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights.”
One poignant line for me in the movie was when Harvey passionately corrects a political colleague and says, “It’s more than an issue – it’s our lives we’re fighting for.” Harvey, it seemed, tried to focus on the real lives of people – including and especially his constituents who were gay. It seems he remembered that this is primarily about people not just power.
Might those who name the name of Jesus remember this too.