“For me, the whole thing always was to pay it forward. Harvey [Milk] gave me his story. Harvey gave me his story, and it saved my life. And I just felt like it’s time to pass it on. The only thing I really knew I wanted to say is tell those [gay and lesbian] kids out there they are going to be all right.” —Dustin Lance Black to reporters backstage after accepting his award
“I’d tell them to turn in their hate card and find their better self. These are largely taught limitations and ignorances. It’s very sad, in a way.” —Sean Penn, asked about his reference to “signs of hate” outside the Academy Awards ceremony
Although it was also great to see Slumdog Millionaire get such sweeping recognition, these two awards were much deserved. Sean Penn told the Prop 8 crowd that they will have to live with their shame, and with the shame in their grandchildrens’ eyes. The truth hurts – let the squeals of impotent rage begin. Here is Dustin Lance Black, accepting the award for Best Original Screenplay. Very beautifully said, by someone who knows a community of religious bigots from the inside.
“Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story.
When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.
I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours.
Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk”.