Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Tribute to Milk has deep resonance

By
From page A6 | July 02, 2013 |

On Friday, my husband Walt and I attended a concert by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, called “Harvey Milk 2013.” The reason we had tickets was that our friend, singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin, had written a number that was being performed. They offered him complimentary tickets, but since he’s in New York and couldn’t fly out, he offered them to us.

On our drive down to San Francisco, we heard that a California appeals court had lifted the ban on gay marriages (instead of waiting the expected 25 days) and that marriages were starting to be performed at San Francisco City Hall now. We listened to the first marriage ceremony, when Sandy Stier and Kristin Perry (one of the two couples which brought the action challenging Proposition 8) were married by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

I listened to the ceremony with tears running down my cheeks. I don’t know either woman, but I remember the emotion surrounding the wedding of my friends Ellen Pontac and Shelly Bailes five years ago and I was just so happy that, after fighting so hard all these years, these two women were finally legally married.

I wish I could express adequately the emotion I felt sitting at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco on Gay Pride Eve, just after the first same-sex marriages had been conducted and celebrating the first openly gay man in the country to ever be elected to public office.

At the start of the program, two of the organizers said they knew that they would be celebrating Harvey Milk, a San Francisco County supervisor, on the 35th anniversary of his assassination, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Men’s Chorus, but there was no way when they planned this that they could have anticipated they also would be celebrating the wins in the Supreme Court and the weddings that were about to take place.

There was long, sustained applause and cheers that rolled through the auditorium and I suspect there were a lot of tears. My own cheeks were wet.

The show started with a recording Milk had made to be played only in the event of his assassination: “This is to be played only in the event of my death by assassination. I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for, an activist, a gay activist, becomes a target or the potential target for somebody who is insecure, terrified, afraid, or very disturbed themselves. Knowing that I could be assassinated at any moment, any time, I feel it’s important that some people know my thoughts …”

Milk had a premonition of what was inevitably to happen, but he probably would not have guessed that San Francisco Mayor George Moscone would be killed by Supervisor Dan White as well.

At intermission, Cleve Jones, who started the AIDS quilt so many years ago, said all he could think when he heard the news of Milk’s death was, “It’s over. It’s all over.” But later that night, as hundreds of people — and then thousands of people and then tens of thousands of people — marched from the Castro District to City Hall carrying candles, and as a small group of men got up and sang on the steps of City Hall — the first performance of the newly formed Gay Men’s Chorus — he thought “No … it’s not all over … it’s just beginning.”

And was it ever. Certainly, nobody 35 years ago could have predicted how far the gay community would come in its fight for equal rights, and definitely not the actions of the Supreme Court last week. Harvey Milk started it.

The concert was in two parts. Part 1, “I am the Legacy,” featured four musical numbers that were chosen from hundreds that had been submitted from all over the world from the “Post-Harvey generation” who are today benefiting from and living his legacy. Steve’s “I met a boy” was second and struck a nice balance between pathos and humor as three groups of men sang about meeting their partners in different decades and what a difference each decade had been. It received loud, sustained applause and appropriate laughter throughout the performance.

There was also an amazing dance number and a poignant song written by a young man about growing up gay in Altoona, Pa. (“I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it’s about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope. — Harvey Milk)

Part 1 ended with a song called “Give Them Hope” with visuals by the chorus that are indescribable, but amazing. From the program: “The selected dance, video, art, original music and new choral pieces weave together a testimony of how Harvey Milk has changed the world for the better.” The technicians must have been working overtime because one of the video clips included video from the wedding that had taken place that afternoon!

Part 2 was the meat of the concert, a monumental song cycle by Andrew Lippa (who also played Harvey Milk in the piece) called “I am Harvey Milk.” It combined video, choral work, and solos by Lippa, by Noah Marlow — a kid with a great set of pipes and an impressive résumé for one so young, as the young Harvey Milk — and Laura Benanti as “Soprano.”

As an evening’s entertainment, it was emotionally exhausting and I cried more than once throughout. But then it was back out into the world again. We took a detour and went to look at City Hall, lit up in rainbow colors. My heart was full and so happy for all of the gay people in California and across the nation whose equality with heterosexual people has just been acknowledged by the Supreme Court and the Obama administration.

— Bev Sykes is a longtime Davis resident and theater critic for The Davis Enterprise.

Comments

comments

.

News

Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Community Meals needs cooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Send kids to camp!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Wise words

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Awareness is key to this fight

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where is this going?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

 
Options for protection come with flu season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

 
Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Archer will get my vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Mike Keefe cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Building something at schools’ HQ

By Our View | From Page: A10

Don’t sell city greenbelt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino project is flawed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Maybe David can beat Goliath again

By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Sports

DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

 
Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
.

Business

UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Styles on target for November debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

MBI hires VP of marketing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

By Rob White | From Page: A9

Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8