Dustin Lance Black talks to Greg In Hollywood about bullying, suicides, media coverage and what needs to be done
Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar winning screenwriter for Milk and a passionate LGBT equal rights activist, was among those who attended Friday night’s terrific PFLAG event in West Hollywood (I’ll have a full report on the event soon).
I got the chance to chat with Lance before the start of the event and was eager to get his thoughts on the tragic events of recent days including the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi who jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate videoed him having sex with a guy and streamed it online.
“There’s a few things that have been bothering me,” Lance began. “On the news shows they keep referring to it as gay sex and I feel like in doing that the news shows are sort of propegating the prejudice. This was a gay young man who was violated while having sex. There’s nothing shameful about gay sex, he should not be shamed by his roommate and he certainly should not be shamed by the media labeling it in such a way and inferring that there’s something negative about it or something he should have thought was negative about it.”
“Beyond that,” Lance added, “we have the issue of bullying. It’s a huge issue in this country and it’s tragic that this kind of thing has to happen for the nation to pay attention. We’ve been beating that drum for quite some time and it’s one of the reasons why I really love PFLAG. They do outreach and education, not just in areas where it’s easy. They reach out to unexpected potential allies, go into the red areas and make this less of a red-blue state divide kind of issue, less a political issue and more a human rights issue. I think that’s really the only way. Talk to these people, let them know who we really are, dispel those myths and stereotypes so that we’re not having another generation of kids growing up and being taught that it’s okay to treat these people as second class.”
The writer-director-activist also addressed how the perception these days is that things are easier for LGBT youth these days: “I think it’s gotten better in certain areas for certain people but it’s not better for everybody and let’s be honest. You just look to the government as one example. Leaving churches aside, the government just in the past few weeks has failed to step up and end discrimination in the military. They’ve time and again lost opportunities to protect people in terms of job discrimination. Time and again the US government is saying gay and lesbian people are less than, are second-class citizens. And what do they except young children to take from that? They take a message that its okay to treat these kids as less than. You see the tears of some of these legislators and I say, ‘Well, you know what? Get to work. Stop being hypocrites and stop treating gay and lesbian people as second class yourselves. You know, set an example.”
Well said Lance!