Speaking to The New York Times, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black revealed the gay movie that changed his life (and lead him to an Oscar win for “Milk”), Gus Van Sant‘s 1991 film “My Own Private Idaho”:
I was closeted at the time, and there was River Phoenix. He was my dream guy, and he was coming out on screen in that beautiful campfire scene. That made me feel like I could come out. He wasn’t a villain. Cut to 15 years and I have “Milk” and the first person I wanted to bring it to was that guy who made that campfire scene (Gus Van Sant). The movie changed my life once because I felt alone, and that was lifesaving. It changed it again because when I went to the director I admired about directing “Milk,” he said yes.