Friday, October 16, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger, Harvey Milk Day, And the POWER of a story well-told

Big news this week was that our California Governor signed the law setting aside May 22 as "Harvey Milk Day" - a special day of recognition to honor the trailblazing Gay politician.

Here's more:

While it will not be a state holiday, schools will be encouraged to hold lessons "remembering the life of Harvey Milk, recognising his accomplishments and familiarising pupils with the contributions he made to this state".

What is so fascinating is that last year, Schwarzenegger VETOED this exact same bill.

So, what changed?

The decision by President Barack Obama to award Milk the presidential medal of freedom and an Academy award-winning film about Milk's life, starring Sean Penn, persuaded Schwarzenegger to change his mind, his spokesman, Aaron McLear, said.

"Harvey Milk symbolises the importance of the gay community in California," said McClear. "And the governor wanted to honour that community. A well-known film brought awareness of him."

Mark Leno, a Democratic state senator, who wrote the bill to honour Milk, said he was pleased about the governor's decision. "In light of his veto message on the same bill last year," he said, "he clearly evolved in his thinking."

It isn't that our Governor didn't know about Harvey Milk last year. He just thought Harvey Milk wasn't that important outside of San Francisco. And it wasn't like there were no gay people last year in the state, when he vetoed it.

But now, with the movie "MILK" and everything else that's going on in our society, the stories we tell, and the stories others tell about us, are changing. Now our stories are about parenthood (gay penguins can be good daddies, too). Our stories are about fighting for marriage, a pretty "conservative" goal. Our stories are about fighting for our country without lying about ourselves - about how we're honest, and brave, and loyal. And our stories are about our ANGER at being treated as second class citizens. Our Anger over Prop 8, which took away the rights of any new gay couples to legally marry in California.

Our stories are changing, and that is creating a shift in our culture. A shift in how we perceive ourselves, and in how others perceive us. The new story is that:

It's no longer "cool" to slam the Gays.

We're standing up, marching, and demanding some respect.

And this week, happily, we got some.

We got Harvey Milk Day.

And in another wonderful stroke of his pen, our Governor also signed a law that makes California recognize the legality of Gay marriages from other states and countries!

So, Hurray for us in California! Hurray for our Governor, who got these two laws right. And Hurray for what Harvey Milk continues to teach us: Come Out. Stand Up. Be Empowered!

Listen to Harvey - he says it beautifully:



ps: The quotes above are from this article here.

pps: Also, check out the amazing Academy Award Winning documentary"The Times Of Harvey Milk," from back in 1984.


Robin Mellom said...

I hadn't heard this! AWESOME!!!! Thanks for sharing.

ivanova said...

Yeah, that is terrific. I do feel like a better day is coming, all because of changing attitudes, classy Hollywood movies, and people making a big stink about equality. It's like the Internationale says, "Although they offer us concessions, change will not come from above."