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A Study Guide to "Milk"

Milk is Gus Van Sant’s filmed biography of the later years in the life of Harvey Milk, who was a great leader of the 1970s Gay and Lesbian movement and, as an elected member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first openly gay politician in the United States. (Note: BGLTQ—Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Transgender, Queer and Questioning—was not an acronym used at that time, and even the word “lesbian” was sometimes not used, everything being subsumed under “gay.”) Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone were assassinated in November 1978 by Dan White, who was also a member of the Board of Supervisors.

The film opened in theatres in December 2008 and is now out on DVD. It is two hours and twenty minutes long and contains a lot of historic footage as well as dramatic action, told in Van Sant’s distinctive mode. Sean Penn’s Golden Globe-nominated performance as Harvey Milk has already been hailed as one of the most profound and touching of the year.

This discussion guide includes a list of resources and steps for taking action, and was prepared by Rev. Mark Belletini, Senior Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, OH. Belletini has taught in a number of seminaries, including Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, which awarded him a Doctor of Divinity in 1994, and Starr King School for the Ministry, which is his alma mater. He has taught worship and celebration, Unitarian Universalist history, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies, and the Gospels from a Unitarian Universalist perspective.

A Study Guide to Milk (PDF, 6 pages), by Rev. Mark Belletini

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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