Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Winning Screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, and Milk Movie

Sunday night at the Academy Award show a most moving and powerful acceptance speech was given by thirty-four year old screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay Milk, based on the life of openly gay San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk. On November 27, 1978, Supervisor Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back.

At the time, California Senator, Dianne Feinstein was President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was in City Hall as the shootings occurred. A short while later, at a press conference originally scheduled by Mayor Moscone to announce White's successor, Feinstein announced the assassinations to a stunned public, stating: "As president of the board of supervisors, it's my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed…and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, I just discovered, has co-produced and written several episodes of my favorite TV program, HBO’s Big Love. Tom Hanks is one of the Executive Producers of Big Love.

Director Gus Van Sant directed Milk., starring Sean Penn., who won the Oscar last night for Best Actor. A couple of Van Sant's other works include Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester, both excellent films. He happens to be openly gay.

Here is a video of Dustin Lance Black’s powerful acceptance speech.

The second and third videos below is an interview with Cleve Jones, AIDS activist, and co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and in 1987 created the AIDS Memorial Quilt. He worked as a student intern in Milk’s office while attending college.

Part One of Cleve Jones Interview

Part Two of Cleve Jones Interview

I want to see this movie. I remember the Milk, Moscone shootings of thirty years ago, I know the HIV-AIDS work of Cleve Jones, and I’ve seen the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and my husband, Don Pendleton and I, watched a candle-light San Francisco Gay Parade in about 1985 from a San Francisco hotel window. Now in 2009, 25 to 30 years later, it is time for tolerance, equality for all, including marriage if so desired, not only in California but everywhere in this country. We need to make up for wasted time—it is a time for change. We should insist on it. As Oscar winner Sean Penn said in his acceptance speech, "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."


Ricky Kendall said...

I was thrilled that Dustin Black used the term "Federal" in his speech. Without the federal governments acknowledgement of gay unions, in whatever form, we get nowhere. The rights most needed by gays would come from the federal level. Even states that decide to allow gay marriages can't render the rights we so desperately need.

I had no idea that Dustin Black was involved with "Big Love". It is one of my favorites and the only reason I keep HBO on my menu of television options. I love that show.

I came from a strict Mormon family and know too well the difficulties of "coming out" under that heavy burden. I have been out since I was 21 years old and just removed my name from the church's roster last year. I had to do the research and prove to myself that the church was wrong. I took it another step in investigating religion in general and find most organized religions are riddled with lies, misinformation, twisted history and esteem deteriorating dogma. I have since narrowed my beliefs to that of a Creator and my spirit. I find a great deal of peace in my new faith and actually feel that the "truth" has set me free.

Linda Pendleton said...

Obviously Dustin Black is a brilliant writer...and I believe our favorite show, Big Love is the best thing on TV...dramatic, great acting, and obviously great writing.

I agree, Ricky, it has to be on a Federal level at some point, so to be recognized nationally. As I've been saying for some time, the Federal Government has not wanted it because of Tax Laws, single vs. married taxpayers could make a big difference in revenue going into the system. I don't think it has anything to do with religious or moral issues at all from their point of view. As a straight person, I will continue to speak up on the issue in ways I can until equality arrives for all people in this country.

The "truth" always sets one free. It is a peaceful feeling, free of guilt and all the other garbage that can be dumped on us. Spirituality comes from all about love...something that can be, and often is, lacking in organized religion.