Monday, February 23, 2009

for "Milk," Dustin Lance Black, and why I still stand for equal rights.

Watching the Oscar show last night was a quiet TV night here at my house. My enthusiasm was for shows I'd seen, which were only two that were up for Best Picture: Milk and Slumdog Millionaire. Given the fact that I have traveled to India, and that I'm an advocate for gay rights, of course I was excited for the awards won by those two movies.

I couldn't have been more pleased when I saw that the screenwriter for Milk, Dustin Lance Black, won for Best Original Screenplay. Not knowing him prior to seeing him onstage to accept his award, I was moved to tears, along with him, as he gave this acceptance speech:

…When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.

(This was about where he started to have tears in his eyes.)

I want to thank my mom who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you, thank you, and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk.

There is more to read about Dustin Lance Black's growing-up years, his early life as a Mormon, and his first contact with the story of Harvey Milk, here.

When Sean Penn won the Best Actor Oscar, I was not surprised when he began his speech with the a wry smile and this greeting, "...You Commie, homo-lovin' sons of guns..." Acknowledging that he doesn't make it easy to be appreciated, he continued to say,
"I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

Because I'm sometimes criticized for speaking out for GLBT rights, I ask myself why I do it. When I see movies like, "Milk," I know why. And when I heard that speech by Dustin Lance Black, I know even more that it is the right thing to do. I speak up for that talented, inspired writer so that he brings more stories to life, so that we all learn how to be better. It is for the child who knows that she is different, but that deserves acceptance and love. I write on behalf of and to encourage the parents who are hearing condemnation for their beloved child in church, but in their hearts know that they need to show love and support. And I speak up to let all my friends know, that I'm not going to be a grandparent that my grandkids will be ashamed of because of how I looked at gay people.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for your words. So much of your heart is in your what you share. I can't imagine what you have been through, yet I know that God has graced you richly. Thanks for standing up for a rejected bunch of God's children.

As a christian woman who happens to be gay, I had been under the hand of a church which did not accept my orientation. God protected me from harsher treatment than I received from them. I never kept my orientation from Him, I never hid in shame from Him. Though I pleaded for Him to change me,He did not. After 20 years of prayer I realized that He wasn't concerned with my orientation but instead with me and my heart. Thanks be To God. I share your concern.

May He bless you richly in grace and strength and fill your heart with His love.


deb said...

Carol, You are a shining light bringing hope and encouragement to many! :)

Terry P said...


I agree with your post... the speeches were genuine and right on. I also support your stand for GLBT rights, and the heart and faith from which they come.

PS: It was great to see you the last two weeks at PI!

Terry P.

Jeff said...

Hm. I happened on your blog and felt the necessity to post something.

I find your views interesting, if somewhat unconvincing. Namely, I do question things as fundamental as the understanding of love (as a singular thing) or the understanding of human nature seen here. Believing in the Bible as God's revealed narrative of Himself, mankind, and our interaction as I do I'm not sure how exactly some of the views seen here are really consistent with that, though I'm certainly curious to see if I might be wrong on this.

For one thing, the understanding of anything in scripture as antiquated, I think, undermines the consistent Biblical assertion that man's essential problems have always been the same. In the words of Solomon: "all things are vanity and chasing after the wind."

If we have ESSENTIALLY changed then I think it would be hard to argue that anything in Biblical revelation was accurate.

On the one hand the Bible gives us a consistent understanding that mankind is like one seeing through a mirror darkly and constantly looking to the immediate carnal fulfillment rather than the ultimate spiritual presence of God.

On the other if we disregard THAT idea then how do we believe anything about the nature of God or Christ, seeing as how they both claim the above?

That seems to lead naturally to the question that - if God is unchanging and man is consistently the same type of unfaithful, how is anything in the Biblical narrative not somehow relevant to us?

Jeff said...

That said, I think we as Christians do tend to get far too hung up on moral acceptance or non-acceptance. I don't by any means argue that somehow homosexuality or homosexual feelings alienate anyone from the love of God. Nothing can do that, that is the message of the cross.

Nor do I claim that somehow I myself am without sin or challenges. One thing that I personally struggle with is the realization that lust of ANY KIND excludes me from the pre-Christ understanding of marriage. That by having objectified a woman and indeed continuing at times to objectify in my heart means that I am honestly unworthy to carry the burdens and joys of that bond.

And that, I think is the nature of us all. In our understanding of love it is important to remember that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None of us are justified in His presence outside the sacrifice of Christ in love. We continue by the grace of God, not the nobility of our own hearts: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" We will always be that way, and that realization is key to our understanding of human nature. We are valuable yes, but terribly terribly flawed.

But at the same time that does not excuse us, I think, either by Paul's standard or Christ's. One tells us that all things might be permitted, but not all things edify. The other tells us to take up our crosses and follow Him.

This is our charge - to find what draws us closer to spiritual communion with our Father and our Lord and seek after it wholeheartedly. I by no means know the scope of that, but I do find the interpretation here hard to reconcile with that process.