Answer: Make sure one of your victims is homosexual then claim to have eaten a lot of junk food before you committed the crime.
And so it was with the assassination of one of our community’s greatest ever leaders, Harvey Milk.
Dan White, an embittered political opponent, gunned down both Milk and Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco’s City Hall after climbing into a side window to evade security screening. Despite the obvious evidence of a well-planned and premeditated double murder, White was given a seven year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. He served five and a half years of his sentence.
The Times of Harvey Milk charts the rise of Harvey Milk – the self-styled ‘Mayor of Castro Street’ – to become the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in San Francisco. It then follows the events surrounding and following his assassination, using news footage and interviews with friends and colleagues to convey the full significance and impact of his murder.
It certainly isn’t comfortable to watch, but it is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand what the struggle for gay rights is really about. Amongst other things, it conveys very clearly how insignificant the lives of gays and lesbians are in the eyes of some people. For example, when rioting broke out following Dan White’s light sentence, some commentators were quick to condemn the resultant property damage yet remained silent on the two murders.
The Times of Harvey Milk won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1985. In one way, it’s a fantastic tribute to a great man. But in another, it’s a shame is that it had to be made at all.