In just a matter of weeks, Dustin Lance Black has gone from someone who could give Pasadena City College ‘a bad name’ to someone college officials ‘deeply respect.’
An embarrassing saga involving inviting then un-inviting Black to be the Southern California college’s commencement speaker came full circle on Wednesday (30 April) when school officials decided to re-invite the Oscar winner to be their speaker eight days from now.
Black, who was busy making his first official public appearance with boyfriend Tom Daley in London, has not yet responded publicly to the district’s latest invitation.
College President Mark Rocha said at a board meeting that Black ‘has distinguished himself as a film producer and a champion of equal rights and protections for all regardless of sexual orientation.’
He added: ‘The Board of Trustees and college administration deeply respect Mr. Black, his work and his causes. The Board also sincerely apologizes to Mr. Black for any actions that may have caused hurt.’
Black’s invitation was rescinded last month because of long ago illegally leaked sex photos that surfaced shortly after he won the Academy Award for his screenplay for the the film Milk.
Board President Anthony Fellow had said old photos could ‘give PCC a bad name.’
Black blasted the school in an open letter noting that he had spoken at over 40 major universities including Harvard’s Kennedy School, Penn, UCLA, and USC and ‘never once, at any of these events has this issue ever come up. Not once.’
‘I did nothing wrong and I refuse to be shamed for this any longer,’ he wrote.
Black’s replacement was Pasadena’s director of public health Dr. Eric Walsh. But it was learned this week that he too was out due to an ‘unforeseen scheduling conflict.’
The college did not mention that Walsh’s workshops and sermons are filled with controversial statements about everything from the theory of evolution to Disney which he calls ‘a dark empire.’ He also once referred to a transgender person as ‘shim.’ according to the Los Angeles Times.
Black attended the college before transferring to UCLA then going on to become a respected filmmaker and LGBT equality activist. He is one of the founding members of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
College spokeswoman Valerie Wardlaw says the school has already reached out to Black’s representatives and said there are seven other candidates on the speaker short list should he decline, according to the Pasadena Star News.
‘If he can’t, for any reason, then we will move forward, consult with our colleagues and students and conduct commencement exercise that will be friendly to the graduates,’ Wardlaw says.