CHANGING TIMES--When the producer of "Torch Song...

CHANGING TIMES--When the producer of "Torch Song Trilogy," paid tribute to his male lover as he accepted a Tony award in 1983, it caused a sensation. At the Oscars Monday, there wasn't a ripple when producer Robert Epstein thanked his "partner in life," John Wright, as Epstein picked up an Academy Award for best documentary feature, "The Times of Harvey Milk."

Epstein said he felt "lover" connoted a sexual relationship, so he decided to use "partner in life" because it indicates a deeper relationship. Epstein said that he and Wright, both San Franciscans, have lived together for 10 years.

The film documents the activist life of Milk, assassinated in 1978 when he was San Francisco's first openly gay city supervisor.

The post-Oscar Governors Ball may stand as a testament to the awareness of gay rights that Milk worked for: Epstein said he didn't hear a negative word when he and Wright took to the dance floor amid the distinguished guests.

"Of course, it was a fast dance, not a slow one," Epstein quipped.


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