A few years ago, I wrote a post about the inherent nature of homophobia in the Untied States, and I could not help but reconnect to my own words as I closed the final chapter of The Mayor of Castor Street by Randy Shilts.
I think once we hit puberty, it becomes the main goal of every teenage boy to prove to everyone that we are not gay. Homosexuality becomes the worst thing a boy could be. This homophobia stayed with me, even years after I was secure with my sexuality. Even in college, my friends and I referred to negative ideas as gay or called each other fags. It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco and New York and started to work with many homosexuals that I realized how ingrained homophobia is in American culture. I finally started to understand how it had even ingrained itself in my language. I soon learned that homosexuality was a dynamic, exciting, and important aspect of our culture. I no longer had to prove that I wasn’t gay. I could finally admit when I thought a man was handsome and not worry that I would be labeled a queer, because being a homosexual was no longer a bad thing. I was no longer worried if people thought I was gay because I liked to wear woman’s shirts, or liked decorating, or cried when I was emotional. I actually started to consider being thought of as gay as a compliment. Because most of the homosexuals I knew were much more interesting, artistic, and happy than my straight friends.After reading the biography, I can’t help but think how much less confusion I would have faced, as a teenager, if I had been exposed to homosexuality and had been allowed to discuss it in an open and honest environment. I’ve also mention my dismay about not being taught the remarkable Harvey Milk story in high school. This biography is an invaluable tool in helping young people better understand the deeply rooted hatred that most societies inflict on homosexuals.
More than a device for promoting tolerance and acceptance of people deemed “different,” it is a textbook for grassroots political activism, an inspirational tome, and a comprehensive history of one of America’s most dynamic cities. A perfect companion to the Gus Van Zant film, Milk, this is a must read book for anyone interested in the power of regular human beings to shake the foundations of society.
Harvey Milk deserves his place along side the great freedom fighters of our collective human history. With a heart overflowing with a desire to create a more open and free society, Milk reminds us that hard work, love, and a stubborn dedication to your cause is all one needs to bring about significant change.
"You are never given power you have to take it." Harvey Milk Lives!