Dustin Lance Black: Hollywood’s Gay Activist


Gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has seen his career skyrocket since he won the Oscar for “MILK.” The 36 year-old Black will return to San Francisco as a Special Guest at the GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday, May 14 at the Marriott Marquis.Black will be on hand to represent the GLAAD nominated documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition.”


“I was contacted by the film’s director Reed Cowan to narrate the film,” says Black. “I was a kid just like him who grew up in the Mormon Church and I ended up collaborating with him on the film. It was important to me not to mock the religion, but to hold them accountable for what they did in backing that proposition. My goal was to make it fair and honest, not religion bashing.”


Black had always been involved in the struggle for LGBT equality, “But after ‘MILK,’ the Oscar, and my acceptance speech, more people have been listening. I realized it was time to take the LGBT movement federal.”


Black co-founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights with director Rob Reiner, “MILK” producer Bruce Cohen, Chad Griffin and Kenneth Mehlman. AFER sponsored the federal court challenge to Proposition 8, led by attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies.


“It seems to be going pretty well. We’ve made great federal gains lately but we need to declare full equality. The civil rights gains mean the most to me,” Black says of his new cache. “And in Hollywood, more people are also willing to take my calls and hear my pitches.”


One of those people was Clint Eastwood who recently finished directing “J. Edgar,” Black’s biopic of closeted FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. The film, set to open next fall, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover and “The Social Network’s” Armie Hammer as his lover Clyde Tolson. “I wanted to explore what happens to a powerful man who was closeted,” says Black. “Without ‘MILK,’ no one would have listened.”


Black describes working with Eastwood as a writer’s dream: “He wanted to include me, I was on the set every day, and he was so interested in the history. He never once had to ask about the beats of the gay relationship.”


Of the film’s star, Black says, “Leo knocked it out of the park. He worked incredibly hard, he devoured research quicker than I could produce it, and he’s one of the best actors we have. And I love Armie. He’s a great guy, a real rising star, and he’s not hard to look at either.”


Black recently wrapped “Virginia,” his debut as writer/director, which stars Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris. He’s developing a new series for HBO, and just completed a screenplay about the “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore.


Of his return to San Francisco for the GLAAD Media Awards, where “MILK” was filmed and premiered, Black says: “I miss it! Every time I go into development on a new project I ask myself how I can do another film in San Francisco. It truly is my favorite city.”


Honorees at this year’s San Francisco GLAAD event, hosted by “Glee’s” Naya Rivera, include “Sex and the City’s” Kim Cattrall and out tech blogger Kara Swisher. 

About The Author

Adam Sandel is a playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, journalist and film critic living in San Francisco, California. He's the film writer for dot429 Magazine and is the host of the internet radio show "Happy Hour" on energytalkradio.com. adamsandel@yahoo.com adam@dot429.com

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