Dustin "Lance" Black

Dustin "Lance" Black (born 10 June 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.

Early life
Black grew up in a
Mormon household[1], in San Antonio, Texas and later moved to Salinas, California when his mother remarried.[2][3] His father had been the Mormon missionary who had baptized Black's mother earlier.[2][4]
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.[2] He says that his "acute awareness" of his sexuality made him dark, shy and at times suicidal, and he only came out in senior year of college.[2]
While attending North Salinas High School, Black began to work in theater at The Western Stage in Salinas-Monterey, California,[2] and later worked on productions including Bare at Hollywood's Hudson Main Stage Theater.[5] 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.[6] 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.[1] 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.[4][6][7]

Black had first visited San Francisco in the early 1990s and was inspired by city supervisor Harvey Milk's representation of the gay community while diagnoses of AIDS among gay people were increasing.[8] 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?"[2] Researching Milk's life for three years,[6] Black met with Milk's former aides Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg, as well as former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos,[8] and began to write a feature film screenplay encompassing the events of Milk's life.[2] The screenplay was written on spec,[9] but Black showed the script to Jones, who passed it on to his friend Gus Van Sant, who signed on to direct the feature.[8] 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.[10]
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 What's Wrong with 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.[11] In his acceptance speech at the Oscar ceremony, he said:

... When I was thirteen years old my beautiful mother moved me and my family from a conservative Mormon home in Texas to California and it was there that I heard the story of Harvey Milk and it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life openly as who I am, and that one day I could even fall in love and maybe even 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 people on October 11, 2009. [13]

Personal life

Black at the 2009 NYC LGBT Pride Rally in Bryant Park
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."[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]
He has said that fellow screenwriter Eric Roth is his hero.[citation needed]
In June 2009, photos of Black engaging in unprotected sexual acts with another man 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.[17] 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 snaps

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