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December 01, 2008


m.s. allen

Glad you mentioned Elaine Nobel. I had just moved to Boston and just come out while she was in office. She was totally out and one year the Boston Globe in their Style Section (or whatever they called it then), toasted the top couples of the year, including, Nobel and her then lover, writer Rita Mae Brown. (Who after their breakup wrote a great essay on why one should never move to a new city for love.)

Nobel, though, wasn't all that popular over time in the gay/les community. She decided to try and be 'one of the guys' in the State Senate and not 'the voice of the les/gay community; a decison one can certainly understand. So she was less than responsive to requests of help from the community, while a brusk, funny New Jersey-born member of the City Council whose sexual orientation seemed to be, workaholic -- Barney Frank -- was the go-to person for help on practical les/gay issues.

Still, she had the guts to do it first.

That said, don't know how Van Sant would have worked that into the movie. And while in general I agree with you that Hollywood loves us to end up dead at the end, one way or another, I think "Milk" is a great film. After reading what you wrote, I was trying to puzzle out why I made an exception for it, and I think it's because I came away filled with the sense of life lived proudly, assertiveness, boldness, sexuality unfettered by guilt or shame and integrated fully into his entire life, that Penn channeling Milk with Van Sant direction put on screen. That, I think has never quite been done before and his aliveness eclipses his death. Besides, it is a true story.

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