Patience, m’dear, Patience
Over the past couple of years, the San Francisco of my childhood has found its way to the silver screen. Last last year’s Pursuit of Happyness and Zodiac, and this season’s Milk are the three examples that I have in mind.
I went to Milk this weekend in part out of nostalgia, and in part to see Sean Penn flex his acting skills. I walked away with a very surprising answer to a question that has long baffled me. Even though my parents are San Franciscans, they are quite conservative when it comes to gay issues (thankfully, they both voted No on Prop. 8 in November). For as long as I could remember, each time I engaged them on the topic of gay rights, they both told me something along the lines of, “I don’t really like them in schools as teachers, they recruit you know.” I had no idea where they got this rhetoric, until I learned about Anita Bryant and 1978’s Prop. 6 campaign in Milk. Prop. 6 sought to ban gay teachers or anyone who supported gays from teaching in California schools. It’s striking to see how much the language of that campaign infiltrated my parents’ views, even if they have a liberal stance on gay marriage. (I also wonder, if Harvey Milk’s standard introduction at rallies, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I want to recruit you,” also embedded this idea in their heads.)
I felt supremely sad during Milk that Prop. 6 failed in 1978, yet Prop. 8 passed just last month, thinking that we had not made enough progress in 30 years. Hertzberg offers some words of reassurance in this week’s New Yorker that Prop. 8 will be reversed in time, and has this nice little anecdote about the great Niner quarterback Steve Young:
A couple of days before the California vote, the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Wildermuth noticed a “No on Prop 8” sign on a front lawn. The lawn and the sign belonged to Steve Young, the football Hall of Famer and former 49er quarterback, and his wife, Barb. Steve Young is a graduate of Brigham Young University, which is named for his great-great-great-grandfather. The Youngs still belong to the Mormon Church. “We believe all families matter and we do not believe in discrimination,” Barb Young said. “Therefore, our family will vote against Prop 8.”