In the touching film “The Times of Harvey Milk”, a story of an openly gay politician Harvey Milk, many different people played important roles. One of these important roles was that of Jim Elliot, an auto mechanist that organized and led a union that came together with other union delegates to decide who they would support. Elliot stated that at first he had no idea who Harvey Milk was and when someone mentioned that he was gay he had to figure out how he would go back to his union and tell them that they were supporting a “fruit”. After finding out that Milk had gotten Coors beer banned in gay bars in San Francisco, a first step to something that the labor union had been trying to do for years, his thoughts of Milk as a politician and a man changed.
Elliot noticed at one of Milk’s meetings how much crowd control and authority that he had over his supporters. This impressed him and pushed him closer to supporting him even though he was gay. When Harvey won his seat on the Francisco Board of Supervisors, after being unsuccessful three times, Elliot no longer saw him as a gay man but instead a great man with power who was respected amongst his community members. He stated in the film that he agreed with Milk on several occasions because Milk was a man that spoke for the little people and minority rights. Gay rights was something that Milk stood for, not only because he was gay but also because it was a minority right.
Jim Elliot’s role in this film was to show that people can and do change. Towards the end of the film when Milk had died, Elliot admitted that he was one of the people in the world that thought it would be better without gay people and that if one of them were killed it would be a service to society. He stated that before he knew the man that Milk was politically and socially and before he had gotten involved with the gay community, he agreed with the other people saying that gays aren’t “us”. Years before, Elliot agreed with police officers who went into gay bars to rough up gay people and thought it was okay. In the film, he said that now he thought it was a shame that people could be treated that way.
Jim Elliot teaches us to not judge a book by its cover, or in this case by their sexual orientation. Being a heterosexual man supporting a homosexual man and his beliefs is something that Elliot thought that he could never do. Supporting a “fruit” is something that was frowned upon by a lot of people at that time in society and Elliot went against the norm because he realized that there was more to Milk than his sexual orientation. He taught us that even though we may not seem to be, everyone is equal. No man is greater than the next man and if Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician, could be accepted by his community then so can the next lesbian or gay man. His role in this film was to show us that even a man that referred to gay people as “fruits” could change his mindset, all it took was a little getting to know who Harvey Milk was on the inside rather than the homosexual on the outside. If Jim Elliot could change his views of gay people, so can we as a nation and as a human race. The sexual orientation of the next man or woman shouldn’t judge who they are on the inside.