On Friday night, Portland will witness a rare event: The glitzy red carpet debut of a big Hollywood movie.
Hometown boy Gus Van Sant is showing off his latest work, Milk, a biopic starring Sean Penn as the slain gay-rights activist Harvey Milk.
Thanks to annoying studio-driven embargos on reviews of the film, I can't tell you how great it is or how much you should believe the Oscar buzz around Penn's portrayal of Milk. (Look for our full review when Milk is widely released on November 26.)
But I can tell you this: Tickets to the screening at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall are worth every penny. For starters, it's a chance to put on your fancy pants and stroll down a damn red carpet. You might even rub shoulders with real-life celebs (and we're not talking about Mayor-Elect Sam Adams, though he'll surely be there, too).
Better yet, the screening is a benefit for Outside In, Portland's excellent social service agency focused on the needs of homeless youth. From multiple sites throughout Portland, Outside In offers medical services, education and job-training opportunities, case management, housing, and even tattoo removal for youth trying to leave part of their past behind.
It's the fourth time Van Sant has hosted a premiere party for Outside In, and his last one—for Elephant—was Outside In's largest-ever fundraiser. This time around, the connection to Outside In is even more poignant: Thirty percent of the youth Outside In serves identify as sexual minorities.
Milk battled for equality in his own neighborhood, and helped defeat the infamous anti-gay Proposition 6, which would have fired all gay teachers or public school employees who supported gay rights. But the most important thing he did was become the first openly gay elected official, winning a seat on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1978. His visibility gave hope to gay kids across the country, who would call him just to say thank you. Fittingly, Milk once told The New York Times, "I represent the gay street people—the 14-year-old runaway from San Antonio." So does Outside In. AMY J. RUIZ
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Fri Nov 14, 8:30 pm, $37.75-$71.75, outsidein.com/milk.htm