Posts Tagged gay rights
Written, performed and produced by CHURCHES: Caleb Nichols, Pat Spurgeon, Dominic East [former members of Formed in 2011 with members of Rogue Wave, WATERS, and Port O’Brien]
Recorded and mixed by Ian Pellicci at Tiny Telephone, San Francisco, Calif.
release date: 11 December 2012
How strange that technology has brought us into a world where there are no fixed places anymore. You speak out of nowhere, you can be anywhere, and because nothing can be checked, you choose to imagine is, at bottom, true.
—FAME by Daniel Kehlmann
I just want people to get that this is simple. This is love.
—8: The Mormon Proposition
–So he slipped the hook?
–At least I’m not fishing with no bait.
from Downton Abbey
Title: The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed
Author: Judy Shepard
Publisher: Hudson Street Press (September 3, 2009)
Review source: Penguin Group
Eventually, we left Matt so we could speak with a doctor and get a full report on his condition. Our son had more than thirty bruises, abrasions and broken bones—including several fractures where his skull had crashed in on itself. As a result, his brain stem, which controlled his heartbeat, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions, was severely damaged. The doctor still didn’t know exactly what had caused Matt’s injuries. But the damage to the head looked like it was the result of repeated blows with a blunt and heavy object.
Most adults remember the horrific hate crime against Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming a decade ago. The 21-year-old University of Wyoming student was beaten and left to die tied to a fence. He was gay and active in the GLBT group at his university. This horrific disgusting crime put the spotlight on intolerance, alternative lifestyles, individuality, choices and people’s freedom to just exist however they want to live their lives. The Matthew Shepard Act, a bill which expands federal hate-crime laws to protect people attacked due to sexual orientation or gender is was just passed this year by the U.S. Senate, ten years after Mathew’s horrendous ordeal.
The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed begins when Judy Shepard hears the news that her eldest son, a blonde blue-eyed young man, lies in a coma due to a bloody beating in Laramie. She is living in Saudi Arabia where her husband works and they must make the arduous trip back to Fort Collins, Colorado to be with Matthew on his final days. The doctors have already told her that there is zero chance that Matthew will ever recover.
Throughout this poignant, heartbreaking and honest narrative, Judy Shepard remembers sitting at Matthew’s hospital side, the enormous outpouring of support from strangers throughout the country, a phone call from President Clinton, and trying to remain supportive of the rest of her family. Judy also recalls Matthew’s life. His experience at a boarding school in Switzerland, when he first came out to her, his rape on a trip to Morocco, finding out while in the hospital that Matthew was HIV positive and his organs would not be able to be donated as Matthew would have wished, his difficulty in settling on a college [after attending one in North Carolina and working a bit, he chose to return home to attend his parents’ alma mater The University of Wyoming]. Judy also details the trials of the accused murderers: Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. It is also the story of a mother coping with losing her son and honoring his memory by never letting anyone forget what happened to him and never letting it happen to anyone else.
The refreshing aspect of The Meaning of Matthew is that he was not the perfect role model for gay men everywhere. He was just a man who was gay, struggling to find himself and his own happiness in this world. And two despicable men took away his dreams and goals with several punches one evening. For what? For hate? Because Matthew was different from them?
Judy established the Matthew Shepard Foundation, after received more than $90,000 in donations from well-wishers.
The three areas of focus for the Matthew Shepard Foundation are:
- Erase hate by educating society about all aspects of hate (whether it’s based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation)
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality
- Put children first—educate the public on the needs of gay and lesbian youth
When gay rights continue to be threatened today, a film about a 1970s gay rights pioneer is important to see. Unfortunately it will not reach the audiences that it needs to reach most. Here in Massachusetts, we have gay marriage. In California, where Harvey Milk fought for gay rights so ardently, gays have had their civil rights taken away and now are fighting Prop 8 (the recent vote against gay marriage). This should be merely a historical film but it cuts into today’s political climate as much now as it did then. It saddens me. I saw the film with my close friend who happens to be gay. We saw it in liberal Brookline at the Coolidge Corner theatre. During classes we took together there was an early undercurrent of “is he or isn’t he gay?” and I just don’t see why this type of discussion still exists or needs to exist today. Why does who someone chooses to have sex with really matter in the end? More importantly, why should society and the government care so much?
At 40-years-old, Harvey Milk lamented that he hadn’t done anything with his life and after looking around his neighborhood and realizing he had a chance to make a difference, he threw himself into politics. He vigilantly worked against many against many anti-gay initiatives. His effervescent personality, resiliency and perseverance (he ran for office four times) paid off when he finally became elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the first openly gay elected politician, in 1977. Everyone seemed to like him and he developed a huge grassroots following. During his short time in office, he managed to pass a major gay rights ordinance for San Francisco. Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by disgruntled former San Francisco supervisor Dan White.
Sean Penn [The Interpreter, Mystic River] portrays Milk in a powerful, profound, commanding performance and will most likely be nominated for an Academy award. He is ebullient and convicted to the end result and wins you over from the first frame. He makes you love Milk right off. He also makes you feel like you are watching a documentary at times. He has the mannerisms and affectations down. And when he’s with his lover, played by the talented James Franco [Pineapple Express, Spider-Man 3], the sex appeal oozes. The duo has smoldering and intense chemistry. James Brolin [W, No Country for Old Men] as Dan White and Emile Hirsch [Into the Wild] as Milk’s protege Cleve Jones, are outstanding as well. First-time screenwriter Dustin Lance Black weaves a compelling script, while director Gus Van Sant [Elephant, Good Will Hunting] scores another convincing, provocative film that delves into a difficult, emotional subject.
Milk is a moving, inspirational film. The gay rights movement, starting around 1970, piggybacked on the civil rights movement, and is equally as historical. Though there are not as many big names attached to the movement or memorable speeches or seminal/blood shed moments. Being openly gay and advancing the rights of gays not only in California but throughout the country by making people realize that being gay wasn’t something that should hold them back or allow them to be discriminated against. He created legislature against such discrimination. Harvey Milk began every speech saying, “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.” He had a “platform”, so to speak,” of getting people to come out to their families, friends, and co-workers. That is his legacy.
Dubbing himself the Mayor of Castro Street, Milk had charisma. He declared that it was “not just issues. This is our lives we are fighting for.” And that it was never just gay rights but human rights. Harvey Milk understood the big picture long before others did and longer before many more will.
–Amy Steele [12.10.2008]
STEELE SAYS: SEE IT IN THE THEATRE