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One Question Q&A: I Am Harvey Milk

Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen and Broadway composer Andrew Lippa on I Am Harvey Milk, performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Harvey Milk has already been commemorated by a book, a documentary, a major biopic, and, now, an airport terminal. Dare we ask, on the 35th anniversary of his assassination: Do we need another homage?

Lippa: Harvey is no longer just a person, in my opinion: He’s an idea, and it’s more profound than ever. San Francisco knows the broad strokes of Harvey’s story, so I wasn’t interested in writing a biography. What I’m interested in is a musical interpretation of his story’s emotional background. It’s a melding of my perspective from having been gay and alive during that period with my perspective as a 48-year-old gay man today.

Cohen: There’s no statute of limitations on commemorating figures who have made a real difference in American history. At every point of the marriage debate and journey that we’re on right now, Harvey’s message is important: We won’t stop until we have full equality, and the most important thing that anyone can do as a member of our community is to come out. It’s amazing how one person— someone knowing one LGBT person who’s living life openly— can make a difference and be that swing vote.

I Am Harvey Milk plays June 26–28, Nourse Theatre, sfgmc.org

Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco

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