"The story of Harvey Milk is one of the most clearly adult and serious topics a gay film has taken on in recent years.
A member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Milk was the first openly gay elected public official in the US.
His murderer, city official Dan White, who also killed San Francisco mayor George Moscone, was given the absurdly lenient sentence of seven years in jail.
As a subject for a movie, Milk's story is far removed from the familiar topics of gay cinema.Alison Pill and Emile Hirsch in "Milk" (2008).
Hollywood has agreed that gay actors will do very well for the comic gay roles - the gay best friend, the bitchy queen in the office. For the serious gay roles, a straight actor must be found.
This is true for Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, Charlize Theron in Monster, Hilary Swank in Boys don't Cry, Penn in Milk, and Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain. Nobody wants to insist that gay parts should only be taken by gay actors. But the limitations of Hollywood's interest in gay people is shown by the way they reward a straight actor playing gay.
The one exception was Brokeback Mountain which was dragged around Hollywood with the reputation of being a great screenplay that could never be made. When it came out, it took the gay audience by storm and spread, to some degree, into the rest.
Clearly, there are people who can only see the world through the apertures licensed by the film industry. In the case of the lives of homosexuals and lesbians, those apertures are unusually tiny"