Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harvey Milk to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom | San Francisco Examiner

By: DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press, July 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978.

The White House announced the list of recipients Thursday.

The medals, representing the nation's highest honor for a civilian, are the first to be awarded by Obama. He will present them at a White House ceremony on Aug. 12.

Shared via AddThis

Start watching the following video at the 26 minute mark to see Stuart Milk accept Harvey Milk's medal from President Obama.

Boogie Nights Blog

Last night my roommate Megan and I sat down for my first viewing of the epic cinematic adventure that is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights.” I fell in love with this movie, in case you were still wondering.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a story about people who work in the adult film industry in the 1970’s. Even for those who don’t wish to watch a movie of that particular subject matter, no one can deny that this is, at least, a fantastic period piece worth watching.
Mr. Anderson, who wrote and directed the film, does a dazzling job of representing the sexual revolution as such an important time in history. He shows the wide sexual attitudes that our society once possessed and also touches upon the gay community in the Seventies and the sudden emergence of men and women living open lives as members of the LGBT community.
During the movie I had a train of thought that made me press pause. I realized that these characters were the people who would eventually grow into their Thirties and Forties in the Eighties and Nineties.
It reminded me of every time anyone in the gay community, who lived through that era, talks about experiencing friends and lovers "dropping like flies" around them during the AIDS epidemic.
These people, who are living in an era of such unquestioned sexual promiscuity and drug use will, without warning, fear death and change their lifestyle immediately in order to survive. These are also people who would eventually grow angrier and angrier, questioningRonald Reagan, who ignored the virus for seven years.
The whole very idea of living through a shock resulting in an abrupt cultural u-turn has to be devastating. All the while, attending funerals three or four times a month for friends who had died of a “gay disease” that had taken over cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
When I pictured San Francisco in the 80’s, I immediately thought of Cleve Jones. I think this cultural attitude change may be one of the reasons why Cleve Jones began his activism for HIV/AIDS research. He lived the dramatic cultural change in San Francisco, just two years after Harvey died.
Many believe that Harvey Milk could have gone on to be a large political influence on HIV/AIDS Research and Awareness. The truth is that after assisting on Harvey’s campaigns for four years, Cleve went on to do just that himself. He continued Harvey’s legacy of leading the LGBT civil rights fight in San Francisco, but instead of working alongside Harvey, working towards fighting AIDS.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Before and After Stonewall

Most Americans have a sizable gap in their historical knowledge when it comes to the history of gays and lesbians in the United States. Before Stonewall (1984) and its sequel After Stonewall (1999) each clock in at about 90 minutes, but this cumulative three hours provides viewers with a wealth of information about the triumphs and tragedies of gays and lesbians over a span of 80 years, and serves as a quick start to further research.Before Stonewall is not only a powerful documentary, but also a priceless historical artifact. The film is rich with interviews of those who were gay and lesbian adults as far back as the 1920s. Many of the the men and women who tell the stories of visiting speakeasies in the 20s and serving in WWII in the 40s are not alive today, 25 years after the film was made. The film describes a time when gays and lesbians were closeted and invisible and just beginning to find each other and themselves. Although, the U.S. still has far to go in granting equal rights to gay and lesbian citizens, it is heartening to see how far the country has come due to the brave struggles of those in the early 20th century.After Stonewall, continues the story where Before Stonewall left off - at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The interviewees tell the story of the great leaps forward in the gay movement, such as electing openly gay officials to public office and repealing anti-gay laws. But they also describe the heartbreak of the massive setbacks, such as the growth of the religious right and AIDS.

Both films are entertaining, educational, and incredibly moving. They are available in VHS format at the San Diego Public Library. Check the website for locations: As a Netflix subscriber, I watched the films instantly online (in bed, on my laptop!) The DVD and VHS can also be purchased new and used from