All of San Francisco crammed into the historical Casto Theater Tuesday night for the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk, a portrait of Harvey Milk, the out San Francisco politician who was murdered with Mayor Moscone in 1978. This was a night of celebration and protest.
As the crowd, many of whom knew Milk personally gathered, activists reminded everyone of the current battle––California Proposition 8 that will be voted on next week. Prop 8, put together by anti gay groups after the California Supreme Court decided that it would be unconstitutional to deny same sex marriage, will over turn the California Supreme Court by forcing a constitutional amendment that would outlaw marriage equality. On leaving the film, more than a few people realized the striking parallel between Milk’s time and ours. Milk cut his political teeth organizing against the Briggs Initiative (then Prop 6). In 1978, John Briggs, a conservative legislator from Orange County, pushed forward a bill that would make it illegal for anyone who was gay to teach school. Milk organized against the bill with the radical idea that gay people should fight the proposed oppressive legislation by coming out and showing the world and California voters that gay people were everywhere. Up until the very end, the Briggs Initiative looked like it would pass. Many are fearful that Prop 8 could also pass next week.
Click here to see more photographs from the premiere.