Gerard Dols has been busy fielding phone calls from the news media these days. Some of you may recall that I asked Arts Arena readers on Jan. 5 whether anyone knew if the Minnesota teen depicted in the film on gay activist Harvey Milk’s life was for real or a case of dramatic license.
One reader commented that he was fictional. I wasn’t the only one asking, of course. Blogs have been abuzz about the boy and what happened to him. Turns out he is not a fictional character, though some of the events depicted in the film aren’t accurate, says Dols, now 48. For one thing, he wasn’t confined to a wheelchair — he had leg braces. Dols was not mentioned by name in the book about Milk on which the film is based, but his story was recalled by another source who appears to have gotten some details mixed up, he said.
I spent some time on the phone with Dols this morning, and much of what he told me was also posted Wednesday on City Pages’ website by Bradley Campbell. Dols said Campbell’s piece was very fair to him, so I’m going to point you to it rather than rehash all of it here. Like Campbell says, it’s a “decent yarn” to read on a winter day.
Interestingly, Dols says he gave up the “gay lifestyle” 30 years ago and turned to a relationship with God. He felt disillusioned after Harvey Milk’s assassination and the violence he saw among “gay militant groups” after Milk’s assailant received a five-year prison sentence. In recent years, Dols has worked as a chaplain in alcohol rehab centers.