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Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974)

andrew potter
Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974) is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist. He has won two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the television series Big Love and an Academy Award for the 2008 film Milk.

Black is a Founding Board Member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and writer of 8, a staged reenactment of the federal trial that led to an appellate court's overturn of California's Proposition 8.

Black was born in Sacramento, California and grew up in a Mormon household, in San Antonio, Texas and later moved to Salinas, California when his mother remarried. His father had been the Mormon missionary who had baptized Black's mother earlier

Growing up surrounded by Mormon culture and military bases, Black worried about his sexuality. He told himself, "I'm going to hell. And if I ever admit it, I'll be hurt, and I'll be brought down" when he found himself attracted to a boy in his neighborhood at the age of six or seven. He says that his "acute awareness" of his sexuality made him dark, shy and at times suicidal. He came out in his senior year of college.

While attending North Salinas High School, Black began to work in theater at The Western Stage in Salinas-Monterey, California, and later worked on productions including Bare at Hollywood's Hudson Main Stage Theater. Black attended the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Theater, Film, and Television (UCLA) while apprenticing with stage directors, taking acting jobs and working on theater lighting crews. He graduated with honors from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television in 1996.

In 2000, he wrote and directed The Journey of Jared Price, a gay romance film, and Something Close to Heaven, a gay coming-of-age short film. In 2001, he directed and was a subject in the documentary On the Bus about a Nevada road trip and adventure at Burning Man taken by six gay men. Raised as Mormon, he was hired as the only such writer on the HBO drama series Big Love about a polygamistic family. He has written for all seasons, serving on season one as a staff writer, executive story editor in season two, and was promoted again, to co-producer, for season three.

Black had first visited San Francisco in the early 1990s, while AIDS was devastating the city's gay community. Black said that, "Hearing about Harvey was about the only hopeful story there was at the time." He had first viewed Rob Epstein's documentary The Times of Harvey Milk when he was in college, and thought, "I just want to do something with this, why hasn't someone done something with this?" Researching Milk's life for three years, Black met with Milk's former aides Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg, as well as former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, and began to write a feature film screenplay encompassing the events of Milk's life. The screenplay was written on spec, but Black showed the script to Jones, who passed it on to his friend Gus Van Sant, who signed on to direct the feature. Black is an old friend of Milk producer Dan Jinks, who signed on to the biopic after he called Black to congratulate him and discovered that the project did not have a confirmed producer.

Black's film Pedro, profiling the life of AIDS activist and reality television personality Pedro Zamora, premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Coming up, Paris Barclay is slated to direct his screenplay A Life Like Mine and Gus Van Sant is set to direct his film adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Black is set to direct his own script Virginia, to star Jennifer Connelly.

On February 22, 2009, Black won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Milk at the 81st Academy Awards. He wore a White Knot to the ceremony as a symbol of solidarity with the marriage equality movement. In his acceptance speech at the Oscar ceremony, he said:
... When I was thirteen years old my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk and it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day I could live my life openly as who I am, and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married...'
"I want to thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to...'

"But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.'

"Thank you, and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk."
Black marched in the National Equality March and delivered a speech in front of the Congress Building to an estimated crowd of 200,000 LGBT rights activists on October 11, 2009.

In 2010, Black narrated 8: The Mormon Proposition, a documentary about the involvement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in California's Proposition 8. Black accepted the award for best documentary for 8:The Mormon Proposition at the GLAAD Media awards in San Francisco and spoke out on discrimination in the LDS Church and meeting with the church to make it more LGBT-inclusive.

Black wrote the screenplay for J. Edgar, a biographical drama released November 11, 2011, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 2011, Black wrote the play 8, which portrays the actual events in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial and the testimony which led to the overturn of California's Proposition 8. He created the play due to the federal court's refusal to allow release of video recordings from the trial and to give the public a true account of what transpired in the courtroom. It is written and performed using original transcripts from the trial and journalist records, along with first-hand interviews of the people involved. "8" first opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City on September 19, 2011, and later broadcast to a worldwide audience on Youtube from the Ebell of Los Angeles Theatre on March 3, 2012.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, sponsors of "8", have now released and licensed the play for readings nationwide on college campuses and in community theaters free of charge.

Black appears as himself in the documentary film Hollywood to Dollywood (2012).

Black told the Daily Bruin that "You hear people say, 'This is my reason for being here. This is my compass.' For me, that's 'Milk.' I wanted to maybe inspire the younger generation to start becoming activists in a grassroots way. There's a lot of stuff that still needs changing — not just gay rights." Black was the top entry on a list of openly gay influential people in The Advocate's "Forty under 40" issue of June/July 2009. He was featured on the cover of the magazine. He was one of the Official Grand Marshals in the 2009 NYC LGBT Pride March, produced by Heritage of Pride joining Anne Kronenberg and Cleve Jones.

In June 2009, photographs of Black engaging in unprotected sex were published by Internet gossip columnist Perez Hilton. Black released a statement saying: "It is unfortunate that individuals and other outside parties are trying to profit from material which is clearly private." His statement also emphasized the importance of responsible sexual practices. On 23 July 2009, Black filed a lawsuit against photo agency Starzlife, alleging the organization illegally obtained the pictures and distributed them without his permission. He is claiming invasion of privacy and copyright infringement and asking for $3 million in damages, as well as any profit the company made from the photos.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dustin_Lance_Black

Further Readings:

8 (Library Edition - Triplex Perma Case)
Audio CD
Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works (June 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580818897
ISBN-13: 978-1580818896
Amazon: 8 (Library Edition - Triplex Perma Case)

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Martin Sheen lead an all-star cast in a powerful portrait of an American civil rights struggle, written by Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) and directed by Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men).

In November 2008, California's Proposition 8 stripped the freedom to marry away from gay and lesbian couples. Now, two of the nation's most renowned attorneys, under the auspices of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, have joined forces to challenge Proposition 8 under the United States Constitution. "8" faithfully recreates the progression of the historic 2010 federal trial through original court transcripts and interviews conducted with the plaintiffs, as their stories are brought to life before a live audience.

Exclusive interviews include:
- Dustin Lance Black and Rob Reiner, playwright and director of "8"
- David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, lead attorneys for the plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8
- Backstage interview montage with actors George Clooney, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and James Pickens, Jr.

A full-cast performance featuring:
Brad Pitt as Chief Judge Vaughn Walker
George Clooney as David Boies
Martin Sheen as Theodore B. Olson
Kevin Bacon as Charles Cooper
Jamie Lee Curtis as Sandy Stier
Christine Lahti as Kris Perry
John C. Reilly as David Blankenhorn
Jane Lynch as Maggie Gallagher
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Dr. Ilan Meyer
Matthew Morrison as Paul Katami
Chris Colfer as Ryan Kendall
Yeardley Smith as Dr. Nancy Cott
Matt Bomer as Jeff Zarrillo
George Takei as Dr. William Tam
Rory O&-#-39-;Malley as Dr. Gregory Herek
Cleve Jones as Evan Wolfson
James Pickens, Jr. as Dr. Gary Segura
Jansen Panettiere as Elliott Perry
Bridger Zadina as Spencer Perry
Vanessa Garcia as Clerk
Campbell Brown as Broadcast Journalist

Directed by Rob Reiner. Recorded before a live audience at the Wilshire Ebell Theater, Los Angeles on March 3, 2012.

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