Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Latest On the Harvey Milk Film, Scriptwriter, Dustin Lance Black

The following is an article from the Bay Area Reporter on the screenwriter who is currently involved in the big screen pic about the life, loves and sad ending of the first modern day gay leader, Harvey Milk.

Castro couch-surfing with 'Milk' screenwriter Dustin Lanceby David Lamble It's late on a sunny Thursday morning in the Castro when a slim and radiantly beautiful young man, someone who would not seem out of place on the set of a Harry Potter movie, climbs the stairs of my Market Street flat, plops himself down on the worn, black couch, and explains why he's spent nearly half his life pursuing a dream to turn the life of a martyred gay politician into a film.

Dustin Lance Black is a polite and focused young man, a multi-talented writer/filmmaker who's spent the decade since college finding a creative platform to exorcise the demons of a complicated childhood spent boomeranging between military installations in the Central Valley and a Texas city that's home to the Alamo and his Mormon parents.

For the last couple of years, Black has been leading a kind of double life: by day, a staff writer for the wickedly funny HBO series Big Love, a witty satire on the cultural baggage shared by Utah's surviving polygamist families and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

Weekends have found Black shooting up I-5, listening to a stack of opera CDs favored by his hero Harvey Milk, on a mission to track down every surviving member of Milk's political clan.For nearly a quarter century, the desire to fashion a fictional template for the slain gay politician's achingly brief career has tempted and ultimately frustrated talents from fabled director Oliver Stone to Milk biographer Randy Shilts.

To Black, the core of the problem has always been to locate the emotional heartbeat of the story, the elusive but vital role Milk has played in the imaginations of generations of queer kids looking for a father figure in the miasma of myth that has grown up around him.

"It was tough. It was clearly, in my mind, a gay movie. I wasn't so interested in the politics, I wasn't so interested in Dan White; I was interested in this man who, to me at least, was a father figure to his people to people who lost their fathers, their parents and their families because of their sexuality. Here was this father figure, and it was something I craved!"

Boy crushChildhood for Lance Black meant growing up in San Antonio, Texas, surrounded by military bases. "I had my first crushes on a boy neighbor when I was like six, seven. I knew what was going on, I knew I liked him, but what Texas did and what the culture of growing up Mormon, growing up military [reinforced], was, the very second thought I had, 'I really like that boy, and it's not just as a friend,' the very second thought was, 'I'm sick, I'm wrong, I'm going to hell. And if I ever admit it, I'll be hurt, and I'll be brought down.'"

It wasn't until college and he was well on his way to fulfilling his dreams that Black discovered an alternative to the mantras of guilt and silence, of duty and obedience promoted by the army and the church. He discovered his father figure; fittingly, for a boy yearning to be a filmmaker, he found him at the movies.

It was in the mid-90s that Black first saw Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. "When I was in high school, we moved from Texas to Salinas, California. My stepdad had been transferred to Fort Ord. I started getting into theatre and acting, working at The Western Stage down in the Salinas-Monterey area, coming up here for TV auditions, and getting to know, for the first time in my life, out gay men."It was the late 80s, early 90s, it wasn't a hopeful time in San Francisco. The one story of hope you did hear was about Harvey Milk, this one man who accomplished so much in a short period of time, and was really the charismatic leader that people were looking for when I was here.

"In college, when I first saw a copy of the documentary, I remember just breaking down into tears. I thought, 'I just want to do something with this, why hasn't someone done something with this?'"The key to the puzzle, to separating fact from fiction about Milk, lay in a chance introduction to the late supervisor's former aide and disciple Cleve Jones. Jones brought Black into the circle of Milk's political family: photographer Danny Nicoletta, Milk's one-time City Hall assistant and leather-jacketed friend Anne Kronenberg, and members of the Democratic Party machine whose grip on election success frustrated Milk's ambitions.Black admits to suffering from the professional screenwriter's greatest curse: the sprawling script that attempts to cover every possible facet of a hopelessly complex story. "You learn to kill your babies, whole scenes and chapters" must fall out of the script. In effect, "you're killing real people," excising colorful moments in Milk's life involving his eventual successor, Harry Britt; his 1976 race for an a state assembly seat in the Castro (lost to Art Agnos); and much of the vital battle to defeat the anti-gay-schoolteacher ballot initiative sponsored by right-wing state senator John Briggs.

For Black, one of the hardest tasks was not to oversimplify Milk's often tortured emotional journey. He pruned more than a dozen boyfriends down to two indispensable lovers: Scott Smith, perhaps the one true love (played in the film by Indiewood heartthrob James Franco); and one of Harvey's last flames, the mercurial Jack Lira (Mexican filmmaking sensation Diego Luna), the boyfriend who stood arm-in-arm with Milk as the newly elected "Mayor of Castro Street" joined his friends and neighbors in a joyful stroll down Market Street to an outdoor swearing-in ceremony. As Milk once quipped, "Sex entered into it, on the front page of The Examiner, there's Supervisor Harvey Milk with his lover."

Through the travail of draft after draft, as the Milk script was winnowed down to the core beats about the man, Black never forgot the little boy from San Antonio whose Texas childhood shadowed his dreams. "Texas kept me very quiet. I became intensely shy, I had thoughts of suicide. I was a pretty dark kid, because I had an acute awareness of my sexuality, and was absolutely convinced that I was wrong.

In his Hope Speech, Harvey Milk says, 'There's that kid in San Antonio, and he heard tonight that a gay man was elected to public office, and that will give him hope.' And when I first heard that speech, it really did that. It really, really gave me hope, for the first time."

I've been waiting for this big screen adaptation of Harvey Milk's life for a long time.

I hope none of us will be disappointed. Since Harvey's death, there has never been a "national" gay leader to take his place. Maybe this movie will inspire that special person to become a national gay leader and help win the right of LGBT to marry in every state in the Union.

We can only be so hopeful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

If It's in Print,then It Must Be True. Study Finds That Committed Same-Sex Couples Are More Satisfied With Each Other than Married Hetero Couples

SAN DIEGO -- A study from San Diego State University suggests that committed same-sex couples are more satisfied with their partners than married heterosexual couples.

The study surveyed same-sex couples who had civil unions in Vermont, same-sex couples not in civil unions and married heterosexual couples, over a three-year period.

Results of the study showed that same-sex couples reported greater relationship quality, compatibility, intimacy and lower levels of conflict than married couples.

"If you think about same sex couples, you have two women or two men, who were raised in more similar ways. They're both from 'Mars,' both from 'Venus,' and so it's actually not surprising that when it comes to relationship satisfaction they do better," said Esther Rothblum, SDSU professor.

"Because of this they may not have to negotiate the huge barriers that men and women do in terms of how they view conflict, provide emotional support or handle childrearing," said Rothblum.

According to the study, same-sex couples were indistinguishable from heterosexual married couples on many other relationship variables, including the number of children, sexual behavior and frequency of contact with their parents with or without their partners.

This was the first study to follow same-sex couples in civil unions over time. It was published in the January issue of Developmental Psychology.
Well, finally a study that gets it right. Happy buddy body bonding. WOOF.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Some Last Minute Valentine's Day Suggestions To Surprise Your Snuggly Honey Buns

Thought I'd share with you some fun ways for you and your sweetie to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. For those of you who have been reading my blog posts over the years, I am, I admit, a romantic at heart.
So that's why I love to celebrate Valentine's Day. It is the one day that you can show a loved one that you think of him in that special way.
So indulge yourself, make rich, chocolate a part of the celebration.
Here I have shared with you two items that I have found over the internet.
I'm not endorsing a product or vendor, just suggesting some ideas.
Chocolate body paint seems to be a very hot item this year.
So why not try it on yourself and your man. I really think a lot of tongue licking fun can be share between you.
And don't forget the whipped cream and cordial cherry on top for the crowning touch.
All of this foreplay will lead to some climatic bursts of creamy enjoyment. And don't worry about the calories, guys. All of that energy expended into the creamy passionate spooning and licking will more than offset any calorie intake. That I can promise. Cross my heart.
I can bet on that. I wish all of you sweet pleasures and Mega Hairy Muscle Hugs of Valentine Day love.
There's a fuzzy cupid out there just ready to point his long firm arrow that's shielded with a chocolate favored condom into your love cave. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Friday, February 01, 2008

There Are Mighty Big Holes in This Swiss Twist Mix-Up Where HIV-Positive Sexual Partners Having Unprotected Sex Are Defined As Practicing Safer Sex

Swiss change safe sex message on HIVSay people with virus can have unprotected sex with partnersGENEVA (AP) Jan 31, 3:15 PM

Swiss AIDS experts said Thursday that some people with HIV who meet strict conditions and are under treatment can safely have unprotected sex with non-infected partners.

The proposal astonished AIDS researchers in Europe and North America who have long argued that safe sex with a condom is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease — apart from abstinence.

"Not only is (the Swiss proposal) dangerous, it's misleading and it is not considering the implications of the biological facts involved with HIV transmission," said Jay Levy, director of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research at the University of California in San Francisco.

The Swiss National AIDS Commission said patients who can satisfy strict conditions, including successful antiretroviral treatment to suppress the virus and who do not have any other sexually transmitted diseases, do not pose a danger to others. The proposal was published this week in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine.

The Swiss scientists took as their starting point a 1999 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, which showed that transmission depends strongly on the viral load in the blood.

The other studies had also found that patients on regular AIDS treatment did not pass on the virus, and that HIV could not be detected in their genital fluids.

"Let's be clear, the decision has to remain with the HIV-negative partner," said Pietro Vernazza, head of infectious diseases at the cantonal hospital of St. Gallen in Switzerland and an author of the report.

The studies cited by the Swiss commission did not themselves definitively conclude whether people with HIV and on antiretroviral treatment could safely have unprotected sex without passing on the virus.

The World Health Organization said Switzerland would be the first country in the world to try this approach.

"There is still some concern that you can never guarantee that somebody will not be infectious, and the evidence I have to say is not conclusive," said Charlie Gilks, director of AIDS treatment and prevention at WHO.

"We are not going to be changing in any way our very clear recommendations that people on treatment continue to practice safer sex, including protected sex with a condom, in any relationship," he added.

In any case, of the 2 million people worldwide now receiving HIV treatment, only a very small number receive medical care comparable to that in Switzerland, Gilks said.

This is a crazy, insane notion proposed by the Swiss. I can't believe a powerful and influencial body like the Swiss National AIDS Commission could reach such a conclusion.

And with such a romantic holiday, Valentine's Day, coming up, this definitely sends a mixed message.