These scenes from 2008’s “Milk” are based on real conversations between Harvey Milk and a young disabled gay man living in rural Minnesota, detailed in Randy Shilts’ award-winning 1982 biography of Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street:
The phone rang. A young voice said he was seventeen years old, in Richmond, Minnesota. He was about to kill himself because his parents were going to institutionalize him for being gay. Harvey took the call, confident he could do some crash counseling; the young man was, after all, the lonely teenage constituent for whom Harvey had tailored all his candidacies. “Run away from home,” Harvey urged. “Get on the bus, go to the next biggest city. Just leave.”
The young man started crying. He was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t get on any bus, he said. That moment marked one of the only times tears would ever come to Harvey’s eyes. Everything was so much more goddamn complex than he could say in his hope speech.
The night that Prop 6, a piece of legislation which would have banned homosexuals from teaching in public schools, was defeated, Harvey called his friend Don Amador, who had been celebrating the victory at a party with an eighteen-year-old from Richmond, Minnesota, whom Harvey might remember. The disabled young man who, a year before, was ready to kill himself because his parents were going to institutionalize him, had followed Harvey’s advice, taken his crutches, and boarded a bus for Los Angeles. He had registered to vote and that day cast his first ballot - against Prop 6. Harvey rarely showed emotion, but his voice cracked when he heard the news.
The eighteen-year-old could hardly wait to meet his hero.