Now Reading
Dustin Lance Black blasts alma mater for rescinding invite to be graduation speaker because of old sex photos

Dustin Lance Black blasts alma mater for rescinding invite to be graduation speaker because of old sex photos

Not many months after he won the Academy Award for his screenplay for the film Milk in 2009, Dustin Lance Black’s newfound fame quickly showed its downside.

Old photos of him having unprotected sex with an ex-boyfriend were leaked onto the internet. Black quickly issued a statement saying he wanted to emphasize the importance of responsible sexual practices and moved on with his life.

But the incident has come back to haunt him with Pasadena City College, which Black attended before transferring to UCLA, revoking an invitation for him to be a commencement speaker.

Black calls this ‘a cruel act’ in which he, the victim, is being punished.

When Board President Anthony Fellow learned Black was to speak, he cited the old photos and said: ‘We’ll be on the radio and on television. We just don’t want to give PCC a bad name.’

It’s an unexpected slight to Black who has only enhanced his reputation since the Oscar win with his leading role in fighting to overturn California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8.

He has also spoken at over 40 major universities including Harvard’s Kennedy School, Penn, UCLA,  and USC.  He’s also spoken to over 200,000 people on the steps of the US Capitol at the March on Washington and been honored for his work for equality on the floor of the California House of Representatives.

‘Never once, at any of these events has this issue ever come up. Not once. Not in the press. Not with the students. Not ever,’ Black writes in an open letter published Thursday (17 April) by Out.com.

Black is not only a founding board member of the American Foundation of Equal Rights which filed the lawsuit but he also wrote a hugely successful play called 8 from the transcripts of the Prop 8 closed trial.

‘For too long now I’ve sat silent on this issue,’ Black writes of the photos. ‘That ends here and now and with this sentence: I did nothing wrong and I refuse to be shamed for this any longer.’

He takes issue with the college administrators for ‘sending the message that LGBT students are to be held to a different standard, that there is something inherently shameful about who we are and how we love.’

Of the photos, he described them as ‘old images from a far simpler time in my life, a time before digital camera phones and Internet scandals. They were photos of me with a man I cared for, a man who shared my Mormon background, and who was also struggling with who he was versus where he came from. And yes, we were doing what gay men do when they love and trust each other, we were having sex.’

The photos, he said, were surreptitiously lifted images from his ex’s computer and shopped them around to gossip sites in a money making scheme. A federal judge later ruled that the defendants had broken the law.

Black believes the move against him casts a shadow over all LGBTI student at the college and he hopes they will speak out.

‘If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the struggle for equality it is that when you are stung by injustice, you must find your pride and raise your voice,’ he writes. ‘If you are outraged like I am, you must show it. You must speak truth to fear and prejudice and shed light where there is ignorance. Now is that time at PCC.’