Harvey Milk and the Boy from Minnesota


Gus Van Sant's most recent film, Milk, while getting award buzz, also received plenty of Minnesota buzz. There's character in the movie who is only known as the "Boy from Minnesota."

The inclusion of the character set-off a search to find out if the person is still alive, and/or around. And if you believe the story of Minneapolis resident Gerard Dols, the character is very real and very much alive. Because the "Boy from Minnesota" is Gerard Dols.

Gerard called City Pages to tell his side of the story. He's concerned about what is being said about him. What follows is his story. If you choose to believe it, then yes, it's him. If you don't, then just assume it's a fable told on a blog. Either way... it's a decent yarn to read on a cold afternoon in the Twin Cities.

Gerard Dols:

I am the boy from Richmond, Minnesota. I want to tell you everything in the movie did not happen. It just did not happen. For one, I am disabled, but I was not in a wheel chair at that time. The writer of the book never interviewed me about it. I was born without kneecaps and wore braces as a child.

I was born in 1960. Then on December 12, 1977 I saw a People magazine article about a gay couple in West Hollywood. It was the first time seeing a gay couple. I thought this is my way out. Don Amador and Tony Carlson. I called information to get Amador's number on that day. You can still get the People magazine issue for proof. It's the one that has a guy with a trumpet on the cover. Anyway, I called to his house.

I said to Don Amador, "Hi I need to run away. My family is abusive and I am being smothered. I need to get away. I'm gay and need help." He said that moving here is not an option but he has a friend named Harvey Milk who just got elected that I could talk to.

Harvey Milk came on the phone. We talked for an hour. He felt I should get out of the house. I kind of lied about the abuse part... but I was smothered. I'd say I was abused emotionally by my parents. I came out in the Spring of 1977 to a school counselor. I was very depressed. Thought about suicide. Anyway, he said, "You need to come to San Francisco." He told me to run away from home. He was very respectful and kind. We hung up after an hour. I believe it was a Tuesday.

A week later, a letter came into the mail. My parents brought the letter to me. They asked who this Harvey Milk person was. Then they took the letter to state representative and told him this man Harvey Milk is trying to take our boy away from us. My parents called his office. He claimed that he didn't know I was 17 years old, even though he did. The attorney general of Minnesota told him to leave me alone. But I called him once more and he told me that when I turn 18 I need to get on a plane and come to San Francisco and he said we will help you.

I talked to Harvey 4-7 times after that and 10 days before my 18th birthday I got a plane ticket. I called to Harvey, but Jack [his boyfriend] answered the phone. Jack said, "Why are you coming here? Jack said why are you trying to take Harvey away from me?" I said, "Fine, let me call Anne [Kronenberg] and give her my flight number." When I called her she said you can't come now. I said why? She said Jack committed suicide last night.

I called him at 6 p.m. and he committed suicide within a half hour. It haunted me for 30 years.

I ended up flying to Los Angeles. Found Don Amador. And he helped me to find a place. Then Harvey was murdered. I immediately was depressed. All my gay friends deserted me when Harvey Milk died.

I was very upset about the militant groups and the riots that followed (Milk's assassin) Dan White only getting 5 years. They were against everything Harvey Milk taught. I felt very hopeless. Everything was lost. I chose to no longer live the lifestyle.

I am now a chaplain by trade. I work at an alcohol/drug rehab center and one of the homeless shelters.

Anyway, I am the Minnesota boy in the Milk movie. I am the boy from Richmond. I am now a born-again Christian. I have a strong faith. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life.