I was living in Chicago when the movie Milk came out. It was 2008 and at that point in my life I had only told a few people that I was gay. The film was released at the end of the year and I saw it on two consecutive freezing cold weekends at an old, shoddily-heated, out-of-the-way movie theater a few miles north of my apartment. After each showing I rode the train back down to my place in Lincoln Park and felt more and more assured that coming out was the right thing to do. By the time the following year came to an end every single person in my life knew that I was a big 'ole queen.
One person that the film featured heavily was LGBT activist Cleve Jones who was played by Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild). Cleve's memoir When We Rise: My Life in the Movement came out earlier this week and last night he held a book signing at Strut in the Castro which B and I attended. We couldn't stay to hear Cleve do a reading because B had to introduce a Gloria Swanson (his stepmother) silent film at the Castro Theatre, but Cleve signed our copies before we headed out and I will cherish mine always.
After B's opening remarks we snuck out of the theater and met up with Kari and Ray at Twin Peaks, the first LGBT establishment to feature large, outward-facing windows, for a drink. While we were all recapping our evenings I shared the story of the first time that I met Cleve. A friend of mine, fellow Muskegon Catholic Central Crusader José Cisneros, introduced us at an event at City Hall after the 2012 Pride Parade and the second part of our short conversation went something like this.
Cleve Jones: Do you live in San Francisco?
Me: I do. I live across from Café Flore on Noe. What about you?
Cleve Jones: I live in the Castro as well.
Me: Oh cool. We're neighbors.
Cleve Jones (flirting, I think): Yes we are, and you can stop by for a cup of sugar anytime.