Friday, April 17, 2009

Milk and Harry

Even though I voted in the home office pool for Sean Penn to win the Oscar for Milk, I didn't know how well he deserved that statue until tonight. What a performance. What a story. Creepy how we seem to be re-living it this year...(creepier that Prop 8 passed while Prop 6 failed).

So it was fun to see the familiar faces on screen. There's DiFi as a baby, Tom Brokaw. There's Tom Amiano in a cameo, hollering for justice. And there's this guy who walks by the window just before the tragic Jack shows up the first time, encouraging Harvey to win. I had to stop and replay the DVD.

Sure enough, it's Brian Yates Sharber, our very first Harry! He sung the original demo of "If the Shoe Fits" and all the "Get mad, girl" lines on "The Big Bitch." (What a day that was, hearing this voice that had been in my head for so long, coming out of such a vital throat!) There he is, making his film debut in my very own living room. His name comes up in the credits as "Gay Man." (Oh, HE's the gay man in Milk! I knew there was one in there somewhere!)

So a shoutout to "Yates," you were and are fabulous. I love how each larger-than-life actor brings something new to Harry, especially as the story develops. In the novelization, for example, Harry now has six toes, an homage to Brian. He got a stage name (Carrie Daweigh) inspired by Keith Levy/Sherry Vine. And Michael Strelo-Smith's donation of a pair of converse sneakers became a magic talisman that showed me how to connect Ashley with her dead father.

But enough trivia. Let's talk about Harvey Milk. All I really registered in 5th or 6th grade was that Anita Bryant was not as good as she seemed in the o.j. commercials. Somehow, from that point on, I managed to grow up in a "hate state" without the slightest belief, ever, that being gay was wrong in any way. And somehow, even more miraculously, this character Harry found a voice and came to life. Hopefully Harry will carry ("Carrie?") on Harvey's work with his own passion for personal expression and self-fulfillment.

Here's to all the past and future Harrys, whoever you may be; May you bring hope and joy to those around you as your own wonderful selves.