Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-12-24
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Lambda Legal hosts 'Holidays on Ice' Lambda Legal hosts

'Holidays on Ice'
Lambda Legal Chicago Leadership Council its fourth annual "Holidays on Ice" at ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black talks Prop 8, Harvey Milk
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2014-05-14

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Harvey Milk, Proposition 8 and me was the theme of openly gay screenwriter, producer, and social activist Dustin Lance Black's lecture May 8 at Elmhurst College.

Winner of the Academy Award and two Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Original Screenplay for the Harvey Milk biopic Milk, Black is also a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights ( AFER ) which led the fight to overturn Proposition 8.

In 2012 Black penned the play 8, based on the closing arguments of the federal Proposition 8 trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The star-studded Los Angeles production was broadcast live online and the play has since been staged in eight countries and all 50 states with more productions in the pipeline.

A graduate of UCLA's School of Film and Television, Black was a writer and co-producer of the HBO polygamist drama Big Love, and wrote the screenplays for Pedro, about openly gay HIV-positive Real World cast member Pedro Zamora; and J. Edgar, about J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI.

Along with his work for AFER, Black also served on the board of the Trevor Project for three years and was one of the organizers of the Oct. 2009 LGBT March on Washington. He has also been featured in Out Magazine's 40 Under 40 series and has been listed among the most powerful LGBT people in the U.S.

During the Elmhurst talk, Black focused on the themes of fear, hope, courage, the power of stories and being a troublemaker.

Black explained that he learned about fear when he was first dropped off at kindergarten. He had a panic attack and was immediately sent to the principal's office where he spent the first two years of his school life. His job was to follow the principal around while she disciplined students with a paddle that had holes drilled into it. Black said he learned from her that what made a great leader was to rule the campus with absolute fear and he knew he didn't have it in him to be like his principal.

Fear was an overriding force in Black's early life and "to make matters worse for me was that I grew up in a devout Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas," said Black. While attending Sunday services Black learned about the 'sin' of homosexuality. He later learned how strongly the church felt about the issue when he was caught saying one of the LGBT slurs he heard at home while hanging around with the women's relief society at the church ( he was a Military brat ). A priesthood holder took Black aside and told him that if he was gay he would be dammed to hell. He was six years old.

A few months before that incident Black had already come to the conclusion that he was gay. Black's defense mechanism was to hide who he was and that meant that he didn't have any friends except for one boy named Troy.

When Troy came out to him as Jewish one summer, Black ( who had never heard of a Jewish person ) told Troy that he could change that and because of his internal fear Black lost his only friend. Black noted the irony of him saying to Troy what everyone else was saying to him about being gay.

Black's story changed dramatically when his mom fell in love and married Black's stepfather ( a Catholic military man ) who was being shipped to Monterey, California. It was then that his mom took charge and decided that the only way to cure Black's shyness was to enroll him in drama club at his new high school.

From there, Black went on to a professional theater in Monterey and then to San Francisco. While in San Francisco, Black heard a 10-year-old tape recording of Harvey Milk giving a speech in San Antonio about the importance of electing LGBT people to political offices so LGBT kids know there is hope for a better world.

"Listening to Harvey Milk's recording gave me my life because for the very first time I heard a leader leading with hope not fear and that vision of hope included me. I didn't know it was possible to be out of the closet or to lead with anything other than fear. It gave me to hope to start living my life although it didn't give me the courage to come out to my family just yet. That would come later," said Black.

While in college Black spent time in West Hollywood making friends and soaking up the LGBT culture. When Black was heading home for Christmas his senior year ( his parents lived in Washington, D.C., by then ) he realized he wouldn't have anything to say to his family about his life including his older brother ( who was the polar opposite of him in every way ) so he hid out in his room. He wondered if his family would love him for who he was.

On Christmas day his mom ( who had polio as a kid, was paralyzed and used crutches ) came to his room and wanted to talk about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and her opposition to gay and lesbian soldiers even if they stayed closeted. Black said he started crying because of his mom's anti-LGBT views and in that moment she knew he was gay and wanted to fix him. That never happened because Black returned to college and finished out the year.

When his family arrived for graduation they ended up sharing a meal with his gay and lesbian friends who had no idea about his mom's anti-LGBT views. Black's friends started telling his mom about their lives including their families negative reaction to them being gay and their sex lives. After dinner Black's mom told him that she liked his friends and said that his graduate student boyfriend needed to treat him better and then embraced him for a long time.

"I knew for the very first time in my life that my mother loved me for me. How did that happen? She heard the stories of actual gay and lesbian people not politics. Those stories were able to dismiss the myths, lies and stereotypes she had heard her whole life," said Black.

Black said he was billed as a troublemaker when he was chosen by his classmates to contest the grades they received ( mostly average and below-average marks ) by a professor in one of their film school classes during the end of their senior year at UCLA. The professor threatened to expel Black and he ended up at an expulsion hearing. When the deans questioned the professor she didn't say anything other than "you are all a pack of hungry jackals" ( Hungry Jackal Productions became the name of his production company ) and stormed off so he won and wasn't expelled. Black said the dean started laughing and put his arm around him and told him he liked him because he was a troublemaker. Black said his whole adult life has been about being a troublemaker and he isn't finished causing trouble on behalf of LGBT equality.

The mission of Black's life is to tell personal stories and be a troublemaker while doing it, he explained.

He told the story of his deeply closeted brother ( who later died of cancer before he could enjoy full equality since he lived in Virginia ) coming out to him after he wrapped production on Milk. Black realized that he had to do more to effect change other than just make movies or TV shows so he could help people like his brother who never got to live in a world where they are truly equal.

After people criticized his Oscar speech he met with civil rights leader Julian Bond to get some advice. Bond encouraged him to keep agitating. He did some research and connected with Chad Griffin, Rob and Michelle Reiner and others and they created AFER to take on Proposition 8. Under the leadership of attorney's Ted Olson and David Boies they won and are currently in court to overturn the ban on marriage equality in Virginia.

"Having passion for something is what makes you a leader. Passion will bring you to the fields where you can be a leader like Harvey Milk," said Black. "Where does that come from? Mine comes from all the ways I am different ... and they are the most damn valuable things that God ever gave me and I'm thankful to him for all of them."

Black asked the crowd to investigate the ways they are different and "look at the places they might hold shame as gold mines where they can find their passion." He called on everyone to use their passion to build bridges so two Americas can become one with full LGBT equality.

A Q&A session followed Black's lecture. Then Black signed copies of his book Milk: The Shooting Script.

See www.dustinlanceblack.com for more information.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

Holiday chestnuts 2014-12-24
THEATER REVIEW Burning Bluebeard 2014-12-24
THEATER REVIEW Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose 2014-12-24
THEATER REVIEW Airline Highway 2014-12-24
THEATER REVIEW Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella 2014-12-24
Theater Spotlight, Critics' Picks 2014-12-24
Theater notes: 'A Wilde Affair'; Steppenwolf to honor Metcalf 2014-12-24
Knight at the Movies: Into the Woods; Mr. Turner; film notes 2014-12-24
NUNN ON ONE: COMEDY Margaret Cho chats about sex, Chicago, Bob Mould 2014-12-24
Entertainment: Sir Ian's 'Street' moves; Audra on HBO; FCKH8 calendar 2014-12-23
NUNN ON ONE Tanya Saracho on her past with the Goodman 2014-12-23
COMEDY Cameron Esposito: The lesbian linguist of funny 2014-12-21
Student actors present poetic novel "October Mourning" 2014-12-18
THEATER REVIEW The Clean House 2014-12-17
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Andrews away 2014-12-17
THEATER REVIEW Newsies 2014-12-17
THEATER REVIEW Twist Your Dickens, or Scrooge You! 2014-12-17
THEATER REVIEW Pericles 2014-12-17
Critics' Picks and Theater Spotlight 2014-12-17
NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Lesbian actress Beth Glover gets evil in 'Cinderella' 2014-12-17
Knight at the Movies: The Hobbit; The Babadook; film notes 2014-12-17
Entertainment: 'Broadway Bares' news; Grindr awards; Robyn's new CD 2014-12-17
'We Must Breathe' Dec. 18 at Victory Gardens Theater 2014-12-11
Michael Sam documentary to air on OWN Dec. 27 2014-12-11
Victory Gardens Theater presents We Must Breathe 2014-12-10
SAG nominations unveiled 2014-12-10
DANCIN' FEATS 'Tis the season of Nutcrackers 2014-12-10
OPERA REVIEW Anna Bolena 2014-12-10
THEATER REVIEW Hot Georgia Sunday 2014-12-10
THEATER REVIEW Desperate Dolls 2014-12-10
THEATER REVIEW H.M.S. Pinafore 2014-12-10
Theater spotlight, Critics' picks 2014-12-10
Chicago, Oak Park screenings of 'Scrooge & Marley' 2014-12-10
Knight at the Movies: The Imitation Game; Exodus; film notes 2014-12-10
Sam Smith, Beyonce lead Grammy nods 2014-12-10
WTTW to air @home; Moraine presents 'Humbug!' 2014-12-10
Winter LGBT movie preview 2014-12-10
TELEVISION Graham Moore talks 'The Imitation Game' 2014-12-10
About Face gets grant; BETTY canceled; YEPP, Crys Matthews Jan. 10 2014-12-10
Madonna; Drag Race's new cast; NewNowNext Awards 2014-12-09





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Chicagoan Sam Kirk shines through art
 
Iggy, Meghan Trainor, Fall Out Boy, OneRepublic shine at Jingle Ball
 
Art becomes activism at 'We Must Breathe'
 
Pound of Flesh pushing toward new album in the fall
 
FDA partially lifts gay blood ban, advocates not happy
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now
Sponsor


Sponsor

  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.