February 22nd, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Cheers for 'Milk'

As you can imagine, this party - which has raised over $150 million over the years to fight AIDS - is full of a number of gay men. They, as as well as all the other guests, just screamed with joy when Sean Penn got the Oscar.

One AIDS activist sitting at my table, a man who lives in San Francisco, explained how the production of "Milk" came to the city and engaged the gay community in the shooting of the film, including giving history lessons to those who grew up after the Milk story.

– Sarah Holbrooke, CNN Senior Editorial Producer, at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar party


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soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. not adam

    Adam that makes no sense you can't have a mostly genetically productive society. This has been tried they disappear cause nature like to be able to forward itself.

    Even so given this bad example. no the reverse would only reverse whos in control telling those "breeders" to stop that stuff

    March 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Noel Larsen

    Harvey Milk – Overblown, self inflated, mediocre.

    Sean Penn, overblown, self inflated, mediocre...add to that, America hating, commie leftist that couldn't hack out a comic book unless it involved insulting Americans.

    Let's get Penn to perform with Jackson in London, Freak Show Tour 2009.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. faith

    Call me crazy but didn't get killed for something other from being gay.......... Looks like we all need a history lesson here.------------------------------

    Julie in WI March 2nd, 2009 5:47 pm ET

    I thought Sean Penn’s speech was right on, but then, I’m a Christian lesbian,
    ----- Really...... So where are the Chrisitian prostitutes??????????

    March 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gradwrkout

    um, for all those out there commenting on how wrong homosexuality is, and how Penn is a jerk, I would just like to say one thing....He won because HE WAS THE CHARACTER! I have rarely watched someone play a role and just forget who they were. He deserved an award, and weather he was the BEST this year or not is just a judgement call, but I don't think anyone with a sane mind could discount what an amazing job he did portraying his character. So, hate the gays all you want, and you gays hate the christians all you want, he was just THAT good. Period. That is the point, which everyone seems to be missing.

    March 2, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. djk

    TO DAVID ELLIS:

    The pedophiles argument is TIRED.......

    WE WILL PREVAIL, GAYS WILL MARRY.LETS BE CLEAR SOCIETY IN OTHER COUNTRIES LIKE SPAIN, THE NETHERLANDS HAVE NOT COLLAPSED...AND WHY DO YOU CARE HOW WILLTHIS AFFECT U IN OKLAHOMA, NEBRASKA??? AND FOR THOSE THAT THINK THIS IS JUST A HOLLYWOOD THING.....WE ARE QUEER AND WE ARE HERE..AND YOU AND YOUR KIDS ALREADY KNOW US.....WE DON'T WANT THEM......CHECK YOUR OWN KIND

    March 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Julie in WI

    I thought Sean Penn's speech was right on, but then, I'm a Christian lesbian, so I have a vested interest in gays and lesbians gaining our God given rights. I'm so tired of Republicans - like that blowhard Rush Limbaugh - claiming that they believe in individual liberty when they don't believe in gay marriage. Where's the individual liberty?

    As far as the mean comments, it would be nice if the people writing them actually knew how to spell. It would add a lot of crediblity to their words. Maybe, adding some constructive reasons, other than "he's a brat" would add to their cause, as well.

    To Jose in Utah: while I agree with you that Liberal Realist has some very serious issues, hoping that someone doesn't have kids is a terrible thing to wish for. Not being able to have children when you want them is the absolute worst situation in the world (outside of having to bury a child) and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I just pray that when Liberal Realist and "his" buddies do have children, that the children reject the backward ideals and become upstanding adults, which is what this country needs.

    Funny, my father was just like Liberal Realist and he had to learn the very valuable lesson that God loves us all - no exceptions, when I came out.

    God Bless us - everyone.

    March 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ennis LA

    I'm gay myself and I don't need Sean Penn to speak for me as
    apparently many gays. Harvey Milk was a great man. He doesn't need Sean Penn or anybody else to speak for him or re-invent. The Oscars
    are for rewarding talent.. If Penn needs a soapbox let him try Meet the Press.

    March 2, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jose in Utah

    Very happy for Sean! He did a wonderful job and gave an awesome performance.

    oh, and to Liberal Realist....

    have a heart.
    lets hope you dont have kids, id hate for the world to be filled with more people like you.

    March 2, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lee

    Being GAY has absolutely nothing to do with ones morals. You can be immoral and be totally straight......or haven't you noticed? In all people gay or straight we find people we would love to have as friends, and some we wouldn't give the time of day too. Sean Penn is an amazing actor. I thought his words were totally appropriate, and I applaud his truly brilliant performance of one of California's, no our nation's most admired politicians. Harvey Milk was a generous, loving human being. Those are qualities I would want in my son, gay or straight.

    March 2, 2009 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. David Ellis

    Sean Penn is certainly entitled to his political opinions. I'm not sure the Oscars is the appropriate venue when you are dealing with a captive audience who is there for the entertainment and not to be preached to like little petulant children.

    California voted. The results are in. Deal with it like other Americans do.

    What's next? A vote to grant pedophiles equal protection????

    March 2, 2009 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ennis LA

    That Sean Penn chose to use his platform for a political speech shows how the Oscars have deteriorated over the years. It should be
    about rewarding work and talent. Yet types like Penn and Dustin
    Lance Black want it to be about their particular point of view. We
    don't need this shoved down our throats. When Vanessa Redgrave
    went this route in 1978, she was heavily criticized. Same for Brando
    in 1973. But now this sort of banner waving is accepted and applauded! Michael Moore did the same to the cheers of mangy leftists. This is why the Oscars can no longer get the big ratings
    it once enjoyed. People are just too offended and put off by their
    loathsome banner-waving. They don't have the guts to cast a gay
    actor in Hollyweird to play Milk. Instead, we get this silly pandering
    buffoon Penn up there. He even has the nerve to visit foreign
    dictators who regularly lock-uo gays in jail to "cure". them. What a
    hypocrite. Oh...and how about his playing both sides against the
    middle in his dreary acceptance speech by praising Obama.
    He knew a majority of blacks voted against gay marriage, so he
    mentions Obama while he attacks Prop 8 supporters. It won't
    work, Sean. Blacks are this country's preferred minority – – not
    gays – – you know this to be true. So stop with the con game.
    Your own marriage to the farrago Madonna ended in disaster. So
    who are you to pose as an expert on marriage? Let's hope this
    phony has had his last nomination.

    March 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tracy

    Wanda, your a moron.

    March 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tracy

    Dear R&R the fact that you actually compare being gay to pediphiles
    (which by the way are always straight white men)only strengthens the stereotypye that people like you are idiots and know nothing of what you speak. If you live your life in a loving non judgmental way and do not hurt anyone, you as a human being deserve equal rights, period,wether your gay ,straight, black, white,red or purple,wether you believe in God or believe that aliens made you. It sounds to me that your morals are lacking, when you judge someone for the way God made them.

    March 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Arizona

    To Chris – You ARE judging others. Your words about "misguided people" and "deviant behavior" are extremely judgemental. Didn't your lord and savior tell the people "judge not lest ye be judged"? Until you search your own soul and find it pure, do not make the mistake of looking at other people's souls.

    February 28, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tracy

    How long will it take these so called called christians to understand that homosexuality has been here since time began. You say that in the bible its a sin, it also says in the bible that if you speak badly of your parents your gonna go to hell., so I guess we're all going to hell.
    I can't stand how so many people read the bible so selectively, believing one thing and totally disregarding the next. Who are we to judge anyone on who they choose to spend there life with. Sean Penn's performance and speach were great, the true star of the evening was Dustin Lance Black, when he won for screenplay he simply stated that To all the gay and Lesbian kids out there that God loves you and that theres nothing wrong with you. Do not let the government, your church or any biggoted small minded perrson tell you your not. To all the people out there who seem to think they speak for God, practice what you preach or shut the hell up.

    February 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  16. DT

    I don't understand why the African-American Civil Rights Leader, Bayard Rustin, doesn't even get a mention, not even during Black History month

    February 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  17. CJ

    Chris, for your information: Family values are not restricted to the heterosexual population, gay people are part of families just like everyone else and have FAMILY VALUES too!!!!!!

    February 27, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Adam

    I wonder if people like Chris ever stopped to think that, for gay men and lesbians, loving a person of his/her own sex is not "deviate" at all. It is the most natural thing in the world! (Just as straight people find it totally natural to love a member of the opposite sex.)

    Chris should stop and think one day: What if the majority of the people in the world were gay and heterosexual behavior was considered "deviate" or "abnormal". Would he be able to just "change" his entire being to become gay in order to accommodate the majority?

    Nah...didn't think so.

    February 27, 2009 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  19. Wanda

    Penn will do anything for money; he is a whore !

    February 27, 2009 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  20. PYH

    I'm right there with you, Elizabeth, a 61-year-old grandmother who is VERY happy Sean Penn received an Oscar. He is a brilliant actor. Yes, equal rights for all.

    February 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Amyazan

    I read here some people talking about going back to the TEN Commandments, I don't think they keep the Sabbath (Saturday), as the Bible says.

    We all are sinners, and we all are loved by God. He know our heart and He is the One who can judge us.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Vijay

    Thank you Sea Penn for that sharp and quick jab, reminding all viewers that human rights are being denied to the gay men and women. You richly deserved the academy award for your great acting and i salute you for that.

    February 26, 2009 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  23. Chris

    Dear moderator, Do you find something in my held comment too offensive?

    February 26, 2009 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  24. johnniebgoode

    with all that has been happening like our new president...sean winning for milk ..it gives me hope that one day we might have a gay president and finally...yes finally get some decent window treatments for the pink...errrr whitehouse....congrats to sean penn

    February 26, 2009 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  25. Lord Elrond

    As an educated, progressive, and liberal gay man living in educated, liberal, and P.C. East (Boston) I was actually rather surprised at how much I didn't like either the film "Milk" or the characters as depicted and I'm pretty sure that the depictions were spot-on. I just personally simply didn't like it or them.

    That said, I felt it was a very well-done and a very important movie that made some solid points about the history and importance of The Civil Rights Movement and about how people should treat each other work together to usher in a new and better age on this planet.

    In one of the most self-serving/self-congratulatory Academy Award EVER the Academy at least took a small step towards mending it's wicked ways after the Brokeback Mountain debacle of recent memory. Just as Heath Ledger deserved an Academy Award for the sum total of his career contributions - but didn't actually deserve Best Supporting for The Dark Night - Penn has also deserved all his past wins and for the work he's done over his career but he didn't necessarily deserve to win for "Milk" this year. Though Sean Penn's performance was impressive, he's given much better performances for which he has been more justly rewarded in the past.

    Nonetheless, his acceptance speech was what made the win worth it - for political reasons - even if the performance (though excellent) wasn't worthy of the win.

    At this stage in human evolution, population, history, culture, and technology there is simply no moral or rational basis for keeping any group of people held-down, oppressed, or denied equal rights and civil liberties and those that wish to do so are either self-hating closet cases or belong to extremist sects of religions that - because of their shortsightedness, narcissism, and fascist ways - have no place in progressive democratic civilizations that are designed to capitalize on the strengths of each individual and accept/tolerate difference and deviation so long as no one is harmed by it.

    We are on this planet for such a short time that to waste any of that time on self-hatred and/or throwing our best selves and best chances at loving relationships away is THE REAL AFFRONT to society and to God.

    February 26, 2009 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  26. R&R

    What does Sean have to celebrate? He didn't win because he was the best actor of 2008, he won merely because Mr. Milk was gay. If the story line was turned to that Mr. Milk was a priest, a eunuch, a bigomist or a pedophile and he was murdered for being such, Penn wouldn't have won crap. The only reason he won was because the majority of Hollywood actors have no morals and this was their way of punishing Californians for passing Proposition 8. Even Penn trashed the voting citizens of CA. His win showed how childish Hollywood really is. I wonder if he'll back pedophiles next, they can also say that they love too. The morals are of America are dwindling away and everybody wonders why everythings so bad.

    February 26, 2009 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  27. Tina

    There is always someone for radical Christians to hate, Witches, Werewolves, African Americans, and now Gay and Lesbian citizens of our country. Sean Penn is an amazing actor and has been for years. He played Sam, a beautiful charactor. Thirty years ago, mentally challanged, deaf, and blind citizens or our country were warehoused in wretched conditions. They were an embarassment and a curse to Christian families. They were hidden and put out of public view. I am sad that they were treated that way, but I am happy that the Gay and Lesbian Community will not be silenced, will not be hidden, and will not go away. I am a straight person who supports equal rights of all people of our country.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Kris Worcester,MA.

    Thanks go out to Sean Penn for his brilliant work in the movie, and also his acting is top notch!! Congrats :)

    February 25, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Dana

    I think Sean Penn is an amazing actor and his Oscar comments were right on, things need to change bigtime!!! I really hope in my lifetime that people stop bringing GOD into the discussions of love, partnership and family values. Who is to say who we love be it male or female? Family values are just that and do not have anything to do with what sexual orientation the person has. I have many gay friends who are better parents than my straight friends, and better role models for healthy relationships for that matter. People really need to be educated on the diversity we have in this world and just accept people for who they are and what they bring to the table each day. Hate and bigotry is not something that God taught us, it is something that people created. I was always told to love people for who they are and that is what I do be it gay, straight, purple, yellow or whatever. Sad to hear that there are still so many people out there who just can't open their minds and hearts to people from all walks of life.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  30. stormy1one

    It makes me angry when actors...sean penn...use the award ceremony as a political platform. Why can't they just thank the academy, the cast and crew, thier family...robin wright penn...and get the heck off the stage? NOBODY wants to hear your politics. You are an actor...period.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  31. john

    So tired of these left wing liberal actors that think because of their public face they can speak for the rest of us-well they don't. I've never liked Sean Penn, he's an ass and reminds me of Hanoi Jane Fonda. If he wants change, let him put his kids in the military, or enlist himself, then I might take him seriously.

    February 24, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Chris

    Dear Ed , I don't call you a Hypocrit. Everyone needs prayers. We do believe that Christ died for all of us. This world is in such a sad state. Maybe you should let go of your hate for the people that don't agree with you. I value prayer, so that is why I will pray for you. It is a gift from a the heart.

    February 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Daniel E

    @Elizabeth – Thanks for those kind words. When I saw his performance in the theaters with friends, they all asked me (being the only gay in the group of 8 of us) why I was not crying with them. I simply responded that the hope MILK provided was enough for me to know things will get better.

    @Chris – I pray in my church and with many others of all faiths that the common value of love and helping those less than us will prevail. That's what provide the basis for strong family value and a better world.

    February 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Liz

    "May God bring everyone back to strong family values, work ethics and to the Ten Commandments."

    Bigotry and hate are NOT "family values."

    February 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Ed

    Chris – typical Christian hypocrisy.
    We don't need your prayers. You need to pray for your own soul.

    February 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  36. mike

    it is so great that we live in a country that has free speach and we can express our views that god he won coming from a gay man myself it is our turn to over come hate in this would we are gay not by choice but by birth ....atlanta

    February 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Chris

    I don't judge but I do pray for all the misguided people who practice or accept deviate behavior. You can't keep trying to change people of faith to your way of thinking. Our faith is strong. May God bring everyone back to strong family values, work ethics and to the Ten Commandments.

    February 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  38. LBW

    Sean Penn thanked everyone but his wife. Good actor, still a brat.

    February 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Elizabeth

    I'm a 62-year-old grandmother from the central U.S. and I was absolutely THRILLED that Sean Penn received the award for Best Actor for the movie "Milk". His acceptance speech was so totally "right on". My husband and I were both so moved by his performance, and we echo his hope that sometime in OUR lifetime we will see equal rights for ALL people in our country. When any one person is denied equal rights under the law then ALL persons are in danger of losing theirs as well.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Dani

    People were actually protesting 'Milk', wow how embarassing. You would think people would have better things to do than judge, judge, judge, like they died on the cross and resurrected. Don't want to be them on judgment day, because I don't want God to ask me if I thought I was him...think about it. They need to protest greed, that's a sin too, but you won't see them protesting that. God is letting us know everyday here in America right now that greed is a sin too.

    February 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Agilog

    Sean,
    Congrats and thanks for calling out all those homo-loving commie sons of guns!!
    Agilog

    February 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Lucinda

    Sean Penn is an amazing character actor. Unlike some stars who basically play the same personality in each movie, he epitomizes what great acting is all about. Congrats, Sean!

    February 23, 2009 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
  43. Conservative realist

    Sean Penns remarks were Totally awesome and to many others who do not follow the stupid redneck view. He was really cool. I think it was ridiculous that people were protesting the movie at the Oscars.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  44. Liberal realist

    Sean Penns remarks wear TOTALLY offensive to me and I'm sure other americans who do not follow the California liberal view. He was a real JERK to use the academy's time to put his reDICKulous views out to the FREE press and free T.V. ..He simply is a Jerk and so are all those lib. asses out in hollywood who think they speak for the rest of the country.

    February 23, 2009 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  45. Juliano

    Kudos to Sean Penn! What a performance! For a man of his straightness to play a gay man so well really says a lot about where he is as an actor and where we are as a country.

    For once this movie fan can truly say that the Academy got it right.

    February 23, 2009 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |

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