The Out List: Dustin Lance Black

HBO recently released a pseudo-documentary called “The Out List,” an opportunity for celebrities and activists to share parts of their stories and their beliefs. As expected, it was a liberal screed on how evil conservatives are. They had one token conservative – Log Cabin Republicans leader R. Clarke Cooper. He was amazing. Most of the rest were infuriating. Here I begin my response to some of them.

Dustin Lance Black is a screenplay writer and filmmaker. His first major work was Big Love; he later won an Academy Award for writing Milk. In his segment, he revealed that he was raised as a Mormon. He said, “I have heard some filmmakers say they don’t want to be labeled as ‘gay filmmakers.’ I am a gay filmmaker! I’m a gay guy, I’m not ashamed of that! I’m pretty proud of that, in fact!” He went on to talk about the passage of California’s Prop 8 – the voter-passed ban on gay marriage after the California Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal. He wept about how horrible it was and said, “that law cost lives.”

First of all, there is nothing wrong with a gay person not wanting to be labeled a gay filmmaker. Just because a gay person wants to appeal to a broad audience and has no interest in being pigeonholed for the whole of their career doesn’t mean they are ashamed to be gay. It doesn’t mean that They are bad somehow. There is nothing wrong with wanting one’s work to be widely available and widely accepted. If you’re proud, fantastic! That does not mean that everyone out there who is gay and is in the film industry needs to be like you. I’m pretty sure the gay rights movement was at least partially about the right to be different.

As for Prop 8…I’m sorry, but I don’t believe for a second that Prop 8 cost lives. gay people have been treated far worse in the past. When I was a kid in Houston, you did not admit you were gay. There was no such thing as a gay-straight alliance. When I told some of the neighborhood kids that I wished I’d been born a boy, their mothers all got together and staged a proxy intervention with my mother. When I was a kid, things were very different. Black is not that much older than me, so I would think he would have experienced some of the anti-gay sentiment that dominated pop culture back then. Prop 8 cost lives? I think churches pushing families to abandon their gay children was far worse. That is the sort of thing that costs lives, Mr. Black.

I might also point out that Prop 8 was passed by the electorate in a state that went wildly for Barack Obama. In my mind that is evidence that anti-gay sentiment is not necessarily a party problem but a people problem.

Tomorrow: Christine Quinn goes on a rant about those eeeeevil Republicans!

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One thought on “The Out List: Dustin Lance Black

  1. Bigotry of any kind isn’t confined to ideology, whether fringe groups (right/middle/left) decide that their standard of the moment is anti-gay bigotry or not.
    I will differ from you a little in that, I feel it’s shallow & insubstantial to be proud of one’s sexual orientation. It’s a childish phase & not something an adult should jump up & down about.
    I did enjoy Big Love, now you’ve ruined my memories of it by exposing to me that Black is either spouting liberal gay platitudes or that he’s childish. Oh well, another bubble burst.
    I was a young gay Mormon & only made dramatic declarations among my cabal of equally youthful cohorts in the 70’s, early 80’s. People love their melodrama & it was an option upon becoming an adult to be dramatic in some way.
    Great post. Succinct.

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