The SF Chronicle: Recreating History with Milk


The SF Chronicle has a great piece about the shooting of Gus van Sant’s Milk which includes this anecdote about the final days of production:

“Appearing on the City Hall steps to deafening applause, Penn looked shockingly like Milk. He had his almost Grecian nose and dark wavy hair parted to one side and wore a tight T-shirt that showed off his muscles. ‘Brothers and sisters, you must come out to your parents,’ Penn/Harvey shouted, pronouncing his vowels distinctly to sound like a New Yorker. ‘It may hurt them. But think how they could hurt you in the voting booth.’ Penn would do eight takes of this speech all to loud applause from an indefatigable crowd, including people who had stood in the same spot 30 years ago listening to Milk urge gays to protect their rights from those trying to get gay-friendly legislation repealed. A dozen rows back from Penn, John Hershey, 63, started crying. Milk had influenced him to come out to his family, Hershey recalled. ‘This is an important thing for me because I want all the kids to know what Harvey did,’ he said…

…A production assistant followed Penn around the front of City Hall with a large navy blue umbrella. She held it over his head to shield him from the sun. Seeing he had a captive audience, Penn broke loose of the umbrella to deliver an impromptu speech that Milk would have loved. ‘I almost wish Jerry Falwell were alive to see this. Almost,’ Penn shouted to the crowd. After dropping some names of conservatives who are still with us – ‘Bill O’Reilly, who is too stupid to talk about,’ and “Sean Hannity, the butt boy of Rupert Murdoch,” Penn said, ‘We know something more. We know their end is near.'”

It’s a wrap – ‘Milk’ filming ends in S.F. [sf chronicle]
(image Kat Wade, sf chronicle)

Sean Penn Directed His Own ‘Mighty Real’ Man-on-Man Kiss [tr]
Gus van Sant’s Milk Finishes up in San Francisco [tr]
Bryan Singer to Cameo in Gus van Sant’s Harvey Milk Film? [tr]
Milk Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black Spills [tr]
Josh Brolin on Tackling the Role of Milk Assassin Dan White [tr]


  1. peterparker says

    Sean Penn ROCKS!!!!!!!! My only question is why is a straight man like Penn standing up to haters like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Falwell and championing our rights while GLBT like Michael Stipe think it’s enough to give an interview stating what we’ve all known for years?

  2. Zeke says

    Wow, I can just remember when this really happened. The news footage of what seemed like millions of people flooding into the streets of San Francisco with candles.

    Looking at this picture I can’t help but wonder why it is that we as a community can’t make such mass demonstrations any more. It seems the only thing that draws gays and lesbians out en mass these days is Pride events and Circuit Partys.

    I really miss the activism that once was part and parcel of our community. I miss the days when we would take to the streets to protest injustice. These days it’s damn near impossible to draw a crowd of more than 20 people unless there’s a party involved.

    I’ve been to numerous rallys here in Florida, most to bring attention to hate crimes attacks (including murders). We are LUCKY to ever get more than 20 people to show up.

    I wonder how many people showed up for the PFLAG demonstration against Sally Kern in Oklahoma today? I suspect few.

    Shouldn’t fighting injustice and standing up to oppression be a greater motivation to come together in mass than a party? It seems so.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for parties. Pride Parades are just fine by me. I just think we shouldn’t party as if we’ve arrived and there’s no work left to be done.

    We need to find a way to get motivated to fight oppression and injustice without having to have a plague or an assasination to light a fire under us.


  3. Zeke says

    Just to be clear, I don’t want people to say that I seem to miss the good old days of the 80’s when AIDS was decimating our brothers.

    I certainly don’t miss what motivated our activism; I just miss the activism itself. I miss the willingness to take to the streets and I miss the courage our community once had to take a public stand against injustice through body and voice and not just through sending a check to HRC or signing an online petition.

  4. Paul R says

    Is using “butt boy” in a pejorative sense really appropriate when addressing a gay and gay-friendly crowd? I’m not trying to be ultra PC, but that seems odd.

  5. says

    This is so freaking awesome. I read The Mayor of Castro Street when I was in high school (at the urging of a friend with a gay mom – little did I know!) and I still didn’t really get the emotional punch of what all of this was about. Also: butt boy! ha!

  6. Zeke says

    The use of “but boy” really was inappropriate, especially in the context of where he was, what he was doing and who he was honoring.

    PATRICK, PLEASE define “professional gays” for us. It’s clear that you share Coulter’s opinion on teh gays. If you like Coulter then you would have LOVED Dan White.

    Maybe you should think about taking a date to the movie so you can cheer when White shoots Milk (who I assume was a “professional gay”)and Mayor Moscone.

  7. Paul R says

    Zeke, I’m surprised at your response given that you seem to agree with Patrick’s view. Obviously I can’t speak for him, but I assume that his use of “professional gays” refers to people who squeal at any remotely offensive antigay terminology—sort of like what I said in my original post, where I was concerned about being overly PC. I sincerely doubt that Partrick shares the views of Ann Coulter.

    That said, the more I think about it, the more I find it unacceptable that Sean Penn said “butt boy,” and even more surprising that few of the postings here take him to task for it.

    An aside: during the Milk filming some SF drag queens were recruited for filming. According to one, Peaches Christ, Penn stared at them in a fairly odd way, and kept his distance. But then we have the Towleroad story of him eagerly kissing the queen who portrays Sylvester in the movie. So who really knows what the hell is going on. Obviously Penn wouldn’t do the movie if he didn’t support gay rights. But it could still be the case that he isn’t sufficiently enlightened to recognize that “butt boy” is demeaning in such a context. He lives in a Hollywood bubble, even in the SF area. Use of that term is in no way laudable, despite many of the postings here to the contrary.

  8. David R. says

    Oops, looks like someone forgot their sense of humor.

    Penn’s use of “buttboy” was funny and crude and he used that term because it would annoy Hannity and Murdoch. Geez, the guy is playing Milk. I’m pretty sure he gets it.

  9. Patrick says

    Zeke, you are clueless. Based on your affinity for protest marches expressed in your first comment I would guess you fall into the category of what I consider a “professional gay.” Screaming queens with a passion for passion. Getting worked up over every perceived slight until someone they think is on their team says something inappropriate then your lips are sealed.

  10. anon says

    I don’t think we have to worry about protecting the dignity of butt boys. SP was correct to point out that Hannity et al are more mouthpieces than anything else.

  11. Zeke says

    Paul R, I really don’t understand your response to me.

    In the first sentence you say that my position is in agreement with PATRICK. How did you come to that conclusion?

    Then you went on, in your second paragraph, to state the same disagreement with Penn’s statement that I made.

    PATRICK, I’m not a screaming anything and I don’t believe I’m overly sensitive but I certainly do stand up (like a MAN) when I think me and mine are being attacked or disrespected. I would think YOU of all people would appreciate that.

    Perhaps you think it’s “gay” for a man to stand up to people who disrespect him and the people he loves.

    And I’M the one who’s clueless?

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