Movie Review Milk

By Owen Gleiberman (

For a gay leader who rose out of the low-rent pleasure-dome bohemia of San Francisco's Castro district in the 1970s, Harvey Milk came off as a fairly straight shooter. Running for the board of supervisors (the equivalent of the city council), the Long Island-born Milk cultivated a respectable, slightly stuffy look and demeanor — the three-piece suits, the shock of hair he wore like a mildly rebellious English professor — that worked as a strategy: He wasn't about to let anyone peg him as some hippie-homosexual degenerate (at least, not by 1977, when he had already lost three elections). But Milk's squareness was more than a mask. It said: Here, at long last, is a gay politician who's out of the closet yet knows how to work the system. What Milk's ebullient smile beamed to the world was how good it felt for an activist to lay his hands on power.

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