Photo History of Harvey Milk / Photo History of San Francisco's Castro / Billions of Virgins in Ecstasy / Other Strange sites / e-mail Strange


A Strange personal history of

Milk the Movie

by Strange de Jim


. Milk is out on DVD (Left) and Blu-ray (right) .


Castro Theatre, San Francisco, 2/23/09


Below is Lance's acceptance speech. Watch it at

Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story. When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe I could even fall in love and one day get married. I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.

Gay activist Cleve Jones during Lance's speech.

In presenting Penn as a nominee, actor Robert de Niro asked: "How, for so many years, did Sean Penn get all those straight roles?"


Below is Sean's acceptance speech. Watch it at

Thank you. Thank you, you commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns. I did not expect this, but I, and I want it to be very clear, that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often. But I am touched by the appreciation and I hoped for it enough that I did want to scribble down, so I had the names in case you were commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns, and so I want to thank my best friend, Sata Matsuzawa. My circle of long-time support, Mara, Brian, Barry and Bob. The great Cleve Jones. Our wonderful writer, Lance Black. Producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks. And particularly, as all, as actors know, our director either has the patience, talent and restraint to grant us a voice or they don't, and it goes from the beginning of the meeting, through the cutting room. And there are no finer hands to be in than Gus Van Sant's. And finally, for those, two last finallies, for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone. And there are, and there are, these last two things. I'm very, very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man president and a country who, for all its toughness, creates courageous artists. And this is in great due respect to all the nominees, but courageous artists, who despite a sensitivity that sometimes has brought enormous challenge, Mickey Rourke rises again and he is my brother. Thank you all very much.

Dustin Lance Black during Sean's speech.

Director Gus Van Sant during Sean's speech.

Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody on page 26 of the March 6 Entertainment Weekly: [At the Vanity Fair Oscar party] We spent the whole night gawking at celebrity skin: Meryl Streep, Mick Jagger, and yes, Fran Lebowitz in one of her signature bespoke suits. But my favorite moment of the night was greeting Dustin Lance Black, the Best Original Screenplay winner for Milk. I knew he was having the most intense experience of his life, and I felt privileged to bear witness. Weeks before, I'd told him that he was probably going to win, and that he had better steel himself for the white-hot spotlight that writers (reclusive nerds that we are) are unaccustomed to facing. But at the party, Lance didn't seem the least bit overwhelmed. In fact, he looked every bit the star: poised, radiant, and proud. Next time I go out on the town, I wanna take lessons from that guy.

For me the adventure started in 2007 at Harvey Milk's 77th birthday party

1978 photo by Dan Nicoletta

Here's Dan Nicoletta's photo of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk on his last birthday, May 22, 1978. Harvey was the first openly gay man to be elected to major public office in the U.S. He and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White that November.

Harvey's friends and admirers still celebrate his birthday each year. The May 22, 2007 party, when Harvey would have been 77, was at Given Gifts, 575 Castro Street, the site of Harvey's old camera store..


The gentleman on the left is Cleve Jones, one of Harvey's closest associates and creator of the AIDS Quilt. Cleve told me about two major-studio Harvey Milk projects in the works.


Rob Epstein poses beside the 1984 Best Documentary Oscar he won for The Times of Harvey Milk.

September 2007

Sept. 28, 2007, again at Given Gifts. Artist John Baden, yours truly and photographer Dan Nicoletta pose in front of John's new Harvey Milk mural. Dan was one of Harvey Milk's closest friends and is one of the main movers in keeping Harvey's legacy alive. He was the source for most of the Harvey Milk photos in my photo history San Francisco's Castro, which was put out by Arcadia Publishing in November 2003.

Dan told me Gus Van Sant was going to direct one of the two upcoming Harvey Milk movies.


February 2008

In February 2008 the Castro Theatre was being restored to the way it looked in the 1970s for the shooting of Gus Van Sant's Milk, starring Sean Penn.


In fact, two blocks of Castro Street were being restored to the way they looked in the '70s. My friend Andrea Jacobson poses in front of new/old Aquarius Records.


Here's the way the famous Toad Hall used to look.


On the street I ran into Cleve Jones, who introduced me to the brilliant Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.


Our friend Dan Nicoletta sits in front of Harvey's recreated camera store, which has a copy of one of Harvey's old campaign posters with Sean Penn's face substituted. Dan is being played in the movie by Lucas Grabeel of High School Musical fame.



Dan is one of the photographers on the movie. Here he is at work.


We walk up the street, and Dan makes the sparkling Connie Champagne buy a copy of my Billions of Virgins in Ecstasy.


Next day onlookers are watching a scene being filmed inside Harvey's camera shop.


March 2008

Me (r.) with Frank Robinson on Castro Street in 2003, photo by Robert M.

I ran into author Frank Robinson, Harvey Milk's speechwriter (best known for The Towering Inferno), and he told me that Brad Pitt wasn't available, so he's playing himself in Milk.


This might be a good place to look at other friends and the actors who are playing them in Milk. You already know about Dan Nicoletta.

Daniel Nicoletta in Harvey's camera shop 1978 (Photo by Denton Smith)

Lucas Grabeel who plays him in Milk.

Daniel Nicoletta on the set of Milk, Feb. 2008 (Photo by Strange de Jim)

In the late 1970s mutual friends invited David Goodstein, publisher of the largest national gay magazine The Advocate, to dinner so we could meet. He attended several of my Friday Strange de Luncheons at Enrico's. Both the photos below are from the Milk movie site

David Goodstein

Actor Howard Rosenman

I've also known Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS quilt, since the late 1970s.

Cleve Jones in 1979, photo by Daniel Nicoletta

Actor Emile Hirsch, photo from

My photo of Cleve Jones in 2007.


I only met Harvey Milk once at a party, and didn't move into the Castro until the year after he was killed. However, His lover Scott Smith and I ran into each other and talked fairly frequently.

Scott Smith and Harvey Milk photo by Marc Cohen

James Franco and Sean Penn as Scott Smith and Harvey Milk.


But back to our story ...

Here's a crowd of extras ready to film a scene of Sean Penn giving a speech outside City Hall after the 1978 Gay Parade..

May 2008

Photo Dan Nicoletta

Again I'm sitting with Dan Nicoletta (center) and a friend in front of Harvey Milk's recreated camera store on Castro Street.


June 2008: Backstage at the Gay Pride Parade

The fellow posing is my old pal Davis, waiting to ride with Cyndi Lauper, who was late. Deciding to wander. I immediately struck gold.


Chatting with a future voter was California State Assemblyman and State-Senator-elect Mark Leno. Hooray! I got to thank him again for surprising me with a Certificate of Recognition he wrote for me in April for my Billions of Virgins in Ecstasy (see below).


In April, after Milk had finished filming there, Given Gifts gave me a signing party for my memoirs. Mark Leno's aide Anna Damiani (center, next to Dan Nicoletta) stunned me by presenting the Certificate of Recognition below.


Then I ran into someone else who'd done me a big favor. At Pride 2004, since he'd read my photo history San Francisco's Castro, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had helpfully moved my camera strap from in front of my lens before obligingly posing with the book, helping it become a big seller for Arcadia Publishing.


The Milk Contingent!

Suddenly I encountered five other people who'd read San Francisco's Castro. It was Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks (the two producers of Milk), Harvey's nephew Stuart Milk, director Gus Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Dan Nicoletta had given all of them copies of my book.


Lance told me he had this postcard I'd given him pinned up on his bulletin board. Oh, and the five men above were posing for Uncle Donald, of all people.


Uncle Donald has one of the oldest and best Castro web sites at He was riding in the parade with Stuart Milk. I snapped him with director Gus Van Sant.


Milk Premiere Oct. 28 at the Castro Theatre

In the picture below of the red carpet in front of the theater, that's Mayor Gavin Newsom in the center being interviewed. In the right foreground, out of the light, is James Franco, who plays Harvey Milk's lover, my friend Scott Smith.


People's Premiere of Milk at the Castro November 10

Allan Baird in 2003
Allan Baird was the Teamster official who became a close political ally of Harvey Milk's. He plays himself in Milk. We became friends when I was writing San Francisco's Castro, and he was nice enough to call and alert me that the new Levi's store on Castro Street was sponsoring a "People's Premiere" of Milk. I'm a people, so I rushed over to Levi's to get tickets.


In our group were Dr. John Newmeyer and Jake Vreeburg.

Below is screenwriter Dustin Lance Black a few minutes after he and I had talked.

Below is a much better photo of Dustin Lance Black by photographer Bill Wilson, taken at the celebrity premiere at the end of October. Bill Wilson's site has lots of gay history photos at

Just before the Oscars

Wayne Friday, Sean Penn, Harvey Milk's aide Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart Milk, Senator Mark Leno

And here's a photo I took March 3, 2009, at a press conference held at Tosca in North Beach, where Sean Penn is speaking in support of Senator Mark Leno's bill to make Harvey Milk's birthday a California holiday.

For lots more photos click here.


The movie was tremendous! For photos and clips and the latest list of all the awards it's won see

. Milk is out on DVD (Left) and Blu-ray (right) .

Milk movie: hundreds of photos and videos of the making of the film and the subsequent openings, award ceremonies, etc. See


Click to see my photo history of San Francisco's Castro.


Heck, you might as well check out all my books.

Click for free text

. . .


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Photo History of Harvey Milk / Photo History of San Francisco's Castro / Billions of Virgins in Ecstasy / Other Strange sites / e-mail Strange

© 2008, 2009 by Ash-Kar Press