Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has been uninvited to speak at Pasadena City College’s 2014 graduation. Black attended Pasadena City College, part of California’s two year community college program, and received an Associate of the Arts degree from PCC.
Black discovered he was no longer the speaker from a newspaper report. The reason the much lauded screenwriter and marriage equality activist who fought hard against Prop 8 in California was removed as graduation speaker?
Board President Anthony Fellow cited intimate photographs of Black and a former boyfriend that were leaked on the Internet in 2009:
With the porno professor and the sex scandals we’ve had on campus this last year, it just didn’t seem like the right time for Mr. Black to be the speaker. We’ll be on the radio and on television. We just don’t want to give PCC a bad name.
Black, who responded in an open letter to the PCC students, explained the photographs in question were:
surreptitiously lifted images from my ex’s computer and shopped them around to gossip sites in a money making scheme. These were 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. I have never lied about my sexuality. If you invade my privacy, this is what you will find. I have sex. It brings me joy, fosters intimacy and helps love grow. I hope anyone reading this can say the same for themselves and for their parents.
Black was the victim in this theft and invasion of privacy–a judge ruled this was case. And now Black, the victim of a crime, is being by punished by being uninvited to speak at event that meant so very much to him,. Black raises the question:
If I was a heterosexual man or woman with this same painful injury in my past, would PCC’s Administration still be rescinding such an honor?…
Rescinding the invitation sends a horrible message to students, LGBT and straight. The board is saying who you love and how you love can be wrong. It’s hope that all students stand up to the administration for the right to hear Dustin Lance Black speak. in his open letter, he writes:
I congratulate all of the 2014 graduates. I had hoped to share the story of how I turned my Community College education at PCC into a fruitful career. I had hoped to share the message that each and every one of you is capable of the same. But now I must ask you to do something for me: speak out.
As PCC Administrators attempt to shame me, they are casting a shadow over all LGBT students at PCC. They are 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, and that no matter what we accomplish in our lives, we will never be worthy of PCC’s praise.
Photo by Greg in Hollywood, used with permission