Fewer gays would have lost their lives to AIDS if San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk hadn't been assassinated in his prime, according to Sean Penn
Penn, who plays Milk - America's first elected gay public official - in Gus Van Sant
new biopic Milk
, is convinced former President Ronald Reagan wouldn't have been able to turn his back on the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic if Milk had lived.
Penn says, "I think less people would've died of AIDS. I think Ronald Reagan would've been forced to address AIDS. It was a tragic loss. Milk wouldn't have stood quietly. He was a leader and he happened to be focused on the gay movement. Because the popular notion was that AIDS was a gay disease, certainly huge numbers of homosexuals died; I think he would've advanced that argument. I think people are dead because he died too soon."
Milk was assassinated in 1978.
(This news article provided by World Entertainment News Network)