Now Reading
Dustin Lance Black on gay Russians: ‘We have to make sure we have their backs’

Dustin Lance Black on gay Russians: ‘We have to make sure we have their backs’

When Dustin Lance Black went to Russia last month for a special screening of the film Milk, it was his boyfriend, Olympic diver Tom Daley, who was getting the headlines for coming out.

Black, who won a screenwriting Oscar for Milk, had said very little about the Russia trip since until today (28 January) when he took part in a live chat on Google+ about the Uprising of Love movement he is a part of.

He traveled with Milk producer Bruce Cohen and director Gus Van Sant to St. Petersburg for a film festival for the screening which took place despite repeated bomb threats.

‘Despite the bomb threats, all of these folks in Russia showed up, waited in snow for an hour-and-a-half,’ Black said from England. ‘I was very moved by the strength that I found in them and the bravery.’

He brought with him a 20-ywar-long rainbow flag that said ‘Suppprt Russian Gays!’

‘I knew in my luggage if that was collected that it might be considered propaganda,’ he said of the flag which he presented after the screening.

The visit by the Milk team occured amid the backdrop of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law which makes it illegal to show any kind of public support for homosexuality.

Black says LGBTI people in Russia need the support of the world more now than ever.

‘They have the strength and the resolve and I actually have full faith that they’re going to win this thing – we have to make sure we have their backs,’ he says.

‘They were enthusiastic to let (their) truth be known and to let that light shine and let their stories be heard,’ Black added. ‘What I absolutely felt was that our visit was helpful. It allowed them to see that the world is watching. And I think that they need to see more of that – that people outside of Russia care, that we’re paying attention.’

Black compared the LGBT Russians to activists in San Francisco in the mid-1970s who were fighting anti-gay laws under the leadership of slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk, the subject of the film Milk.

‘We want to have their backs when they choose to do the thing that’s so critical in a movement which is to tell their truth and to be visible,’ he said. ‘That’s exactly what these laws are trying to is stifle that.’

Below is full video of the Google+ chat which also include Cohen and singer Melissa Etheridge.