How does Milk demonstrate the theme of belonging?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Van Sant's film demonstrates the idea of belonging in that the protagonist, Harvey Milk, finds great satisfaction in a life of public service that includes others.  The idea of belonging resides in Milk's private and public need to integrate the voice of homosexuals into the public discourse.  The film shows Milk's activism as one in which the idea of belonging for homosexuals is of vital importance.  The notion of bringing voices from margin to center dominates Milk's desire to serve and it is here where the theme of belonging is so intrinsic to the film.  The idea of belonging is of vital importance to both Milk's drive for civic activism and private happiness.  It is also of relevance in its insinuation that Dan White, the man who killed Milk and Mayor Moscone, was a closeted homosexual.  This helps to bring to light to the idea that belonging carries with it a certain affirmation, whereby the individual must want to belong to a group.  If the film is right in that White might have been gay, then his response to killing Milk was out of a fear of belonging.  In this, the film offers a different approach to the notion of belonging.


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