Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cleve Jones of "Milk" tells coming-out story

Cleve Jones, the gay-rights activist with an important role in the new movie “Milk,” is interviewed in my book “Hide and Speak: A Coming Out Guide.” Directed by Gus Van Sant, “Milk” is based on the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official. Sean Penn plays Milk and Emile Hirsch plays Jones, who helped launch his campaign and worked on his staff. In “Hide and Speak,” Jones talks about his coming-out journey and how he got the idea to create the Names Project AIDS quilt. He tells how he overcame the shame he felt as a teenager about his sexual orientation. The following excerpt from the book describes a turning point in his life:
Cleve was attending a national convention of a group in which he was politically active: the Society of Friends. He noticed a sign announcing a meeting of lesbian and gay Friends. “I remember pacing outside the door, and finally just taking a breath, opening the door, and walking in. All my favorite people were in the room! All the Quakers I thought were the neatest – men and women – they were all there. Except my lover. I walked in. A few people chuckled. Somebody said, “Welcome.” Somebody else said “We were wondering if you were going to join us.” I just started laughing. That was the first time I said, “I’m gay.” It was just such a strong sense of homecoming. That night all the Quakers gathered in a big circle and sat in silence for a long time and then sang, which is not very typical. They sang “Amazing Grace.” Coming up in a Quaker family, I had never heard this song before. The words, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see,” were all just so meaningful.
…………… Jones is interviewed in the video above about his coming-out journey, the “Milk” move, Harvey Milk, the Names Project quilt, and gay history. It was made by CastroInTheStreets.com.

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