[Cross-Posted @ Charcoal Ink]
I went to see Milk today. It was a two hour microscopic view of the life of Harvey Milk, an American gay activist who was the first openly gay individual elected to office in California. It was well-made, stylistic and had a tour-de-force performance from Sean Penn*.
I knew there were not going to be any major black characters anyway, so that wasn’t a surprise, but what did surprise me in the film was how Milk uses his energy to earn rights for gay people, noting that the black community have their own black leaders.
I found this really interesting because it gave off the impression that the gay community and the black community were separate, when of course they are not. The film is a biopic so I am not having a go at it because I really liked Sean Penn in it. It’s just an observation I noted at how homosexuality from this perspective is portrayed as white. There is one point in the film where there is a poster saying Harvey supports Minorities. It’s like the gay establishment recognises that race/colour completely plays a part in it because Milk was trying to get people of colour to support him.
It’s just intriguing to watch because I am a heterosexual black woman. And I was one of the only two people of colour in the cinema and there was a significant chunk of people there today. Considering, I went to east London and I went to the first screening at 12.40, I think Milk will do well at the UK box office. The other person of colour was sitting on the row behind me and making quite a racket.
When I was reading reviews for Milk to decide whether I should go see it, I came across this one comment on this site and for the life of me, I can’t find it but basically this one person was saying they went to go see Milk and saw a black man in the cinema who was dressed in the ‘stereotypical’ way. And this person was saying how they were surprised but happy to see him there.
When I read this comment, it is clear it reeks of white privilege, incapable to see that most black people in West have been watching images of white people for a big chunk of their lives (involuntarily/voluntarily).
Me watching Milk was about trying to watch something I wouldn’t normally do (I don’t like biopics much).
Essentially, it is about civil rights. But I don’t know whether it will speak to people of colour much because the struggle that faces black people is definitely more tiered and textured than it appears to be for white people. Again, I don’t know what black gay people think (I invite you to tell me what you think), but it just seems to me that Milk was about the white gay struggle, not the gay struggle. Nonetheless, it was still enjoyable. And it will get an Oscar.
*=I don’t care what anyone says. This guy is sexy.