“And Harvey Milk as a role model? Not for me. But he was certainly a trailblazer. He showed that an openly gay person can achieve anything, maybe even become President of the United States — though my imagination doesn’t quite stretch that far! Then again, who could have imagined even a few years ago that Americans would elect an African-American into the White House?
But let’s not deceive ourselves. There are also still influential groups in the US that want to overturn gay rights. In California last November, a ballot proposition revoked the right to civil unions.
Thankfully, in Germany we’re further along. I’m confident that the majority of Germans can accept a homosexual politician in a leadership role. But here as well we shouldn’t maintain any illusions — there are surely still many people who wouldn’t vote for a gay candidate simply because of his or her sexual orientation…
In one scene in the film, Harvey Milk receives a postcard with an anonymous threat. Something will happen, it says, if he speaks at a certain rally. Nonetheless, Milk goes onstage and gives a speech that electrifies the audience. My hope is that Van Sant’s film will inspire as many people as Milk did.— Openly gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit on Milk, the biopic of slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk, which just opened in Germany.