The winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay spoke directly to gay kids when he accepted his award in Los Angeles last night.

Dustin Lance Black, who is known as a gay rights activist, won the award for Milk, a biopic of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US.

He was assassinated in 1978, less than a year after being elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

“Oh my God,” Mr Black said. 

“This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me.

“And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story.

“When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope.

“It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

“I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours.

“Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.”