On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to American public office, was gunned down by fellow city supervisor, Dan White, who had just learned that he would be losing his job after publicly supporting Proposition 6, which advocated the removal of gay and lesbian school teachers from California's schools. Gus Van Sant's stylish and haunting biopic pays tribute to this crusading politico from 1970 New York City where Harvey (Sean Penn) meets the love of his life, Scott Smith (James Franco). The couple moves to San Francisco and attempts to set up a camera shop, only to meet fierce resistance and prejudice from other shopkeepers. So Harvey mobilizes the local gay community and boycotts businesses, which dare to discriminate against people because of their sexuality, fostering a new air of togetherness and equality. Weathering the inflammatory remarks of Anita Bryant and Senator John Briggs (Denis O'Hare), Harvey encourages his campaign team led by ballsy manager Anne Kronenberg (Alison Pill) to never give up. Drifter Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) takes Harvey at his word and pursues a new agenda in Californian politics, Meanwhile Harvey and Scott's relationship founders and eventually self-destructs, propelling the statesman into the path of emotionally unstable Latino hanger-on Jack (Diego Luna).