On Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, I interviewed Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award Winner for Best Screenplay and LGBT activist. Black was in Milwaukee to speak for the Hilary campaign.
What made him be a part of Hilary’s campaign? Why was he chosen? Black explained to me that he was not hired by the Hilary campaign, but rather volunteered. It is important to him to support a leading female in politics. Black feels that Hilary has a lot to offer to a diverse population and will accomplish a lot for the United States. He also mentioned that he sees voting for Hilary will continue to break traditional bonds. He sees Hilary as essential to support for the betterment of the United States.
Black who primarily advocates for the LGBT+ community and for anti-bullying, said that in order to really be an activist he needed to understand all marginalized groups. The LGBT+ community is intersected with many of these groups and to help the LGBT+ community he said that he needed to take the time to learn from other groups of people, he meets when campaigning. It allows him to learn more about the LGBT+ communities that he is a part of.
Black again made it clear that he wasn’t so much focused on spreading awareness of solely LGBT+ issues; rather he is focused on the importance of intersectionality and learning from a diverse population. He mentioned that social justice is for everyone and that the LGBT+ community intertwines with all other groups. He sees this as Clinton’s message and with supporting her he sees the ability for change.
He mentioned his background with me. He spoke about growing up in San Antonia, TX in a military neighborhood. Living in the conservative environment he learned very quickly what his community thought about the word, “gay”. Especially since he is gay himself. He mentioned that he started to think negatively about how he would be treated for being gay considering he witnessed how his mom was treated. Black said that his mother was paralyzed that resulted in people treating her differently. This gave him anxiety toward his own identity. Black said as time went by he reflected on his and his mother’s experiences and used them as a way to understand why others are treated differently. This is a big inspiration to him becoming an advocate for others and always doing something about a problem.
Black mentioned that aside from speaking he has advocated through film and media. Through his involvement in media, he can deliver a message to a diverse crowd who came to see an unforgettable film. Getting these messages around he mentioned connects us.
Black said that people, society, and politicians all have the ability to change and he saw Clinton as one of those people who has stood strongly by change. He said that Hilary is supportive of many groups of people and for the LGBT+ community. He said that she is in support for an act to be passed that would protect the LGBT+ community. The act would make it illegal to take away or not grant a home and job, because of an individual’s identity. Yes, this is still legal in many areas in the United States. He made it clear that this kind of support exceeds one group.
Black also mentioned he was in the process of a mini-series called “When We Rise”. It is about a group of people starting the LGBT movement and members come from other backgrounds further delving into how people are affected by diversity.
As far as working with other advocates and overcoming adversity, Black says he hasn’t had many challenges to work around with others. Black mentioned that he has a lot of connections with people in Hollywood that he works with to help spread messages and share ideas. For example, he started campaigning for Hilary based on views he shared with Leo DiCaprio and others. One change he had to get used to was not being a Bernie supporter. He mentioned that he was a Bernie Sanders supporter and even today respects him a great deal. One thing that he admires about Hilary is her willingness to work with Sanders. Black said when he became a Hilary supporter many of his friends were still Sanders supporters. Later he said that some of his friends switched to supporting Hilary. Black said that overall disagreements are important especially in politics because it’s how we learn and understand another.
From everything that he answered he made a clear and important connection that we all need to change as a society by taking the time to learn from others. We need to advocate for others while respecting alternate views. People should not be treated differently because they look or act another way. This is why Black believes we need someone like Hilary Clinton in the White House.
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