Monday, February 23, 2009

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK-2009 Oscar Winner for Best Original Screenplay MILK!

The Oscars did not disappoint last night! The show was filled with many great moments. Hugh Jackman’s two musical numbers were flawless. Anne Hathaway surprised many while joining Hugh in song with her brilliant voice during the opening. When Jennifer Aniston took the stage to hand out the award for Best Animation Feature the cameras panned to Angelina Jolie. Then again while she and Jack Black announced best Animated Short Film. The Kiss Between James Franco and Sean Penn was featured not once but twice during the show. Ben Stiller as Joaquin Phoenix was priceless. Penn’s declaration of “Equal rights for everyone” during his acceptance speech for best actor sent goose bumps down my body. BUT the most moving moment of the evening was from Dustin Lance Black upon winning Best Original Screenplay for Milk!

“When I was 13 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 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’d 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, thank you, and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk.”

Childhood for Lance Black meant growing up in San Antonio, Texas, surrounded by military bases and Mormon culture. 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 he said that his "acute awareness" of his sexuality made him dark, shy and at times suicidal, "I had my first crush on a boy when I was like six, seven. ‘I knew what was going on, I knew I liked him… really liked him, and not just as a friend,' but what Texas did and what the culture of growing up Mormon - growing up military reinforced - was the very second thought I had, 'I'm sick, I'm wrong, I'm going to hell. And if I ever admit it, I'll be hurt, and I'll be brought down.'"

“Texas kept me very quiet. I became intensely shy, I had thoughts of suicide. I was a pretty dark kid, because I had an acute awareness of my sexuality, and was absolutely convinced that I was wrong. In his Hope Speech, Harvey Milk says, 'There's that kid in San Antonio, and he heard tonight that a gay man was elected to public office, and that will give him hope.' And when I first heard that speech, it really did that. It really, really gave me hope, for the first time.”

It wasn't until college when he was on his way to fulfilling his dreams. Black discovered an alternative to the mantras of guilt and silence, of duty and obedience promoted by the army and the church. He discovered his father figure at the movies. It was in the mid-90s that Black first saw Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk.

Black is also staff writer for the wickedly funny HBO series Big Love!

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