- Views & Opinions
The first openly-gay Oscar winner recently visited Wisconsin to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Director/writer/producer Dustin Lance Black campaigned for the Democratic nominee in Madison, Oshkosh and Stevens Point.
Black won the Academy Award for writing Milk. He also penned J. Edgar — directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio — and five episodes of HBO’s Big Love.
In 2009, The Advocate named Black the most influential openly gay man under 40.
In 2015, Black became engaged to British diver Tom Daley. The couple resides in London.
WiG interviewed Black earlier this month, while he was campaigning for Clinton in Wisconsin.
WiG: How are you enjoying Wisconsin?
Dustin Lance Black: It’s so beautiful. I love it. We’ve had this heat wave in L.A. I’m ready for fall, and boy, did you bring it here.
Why are you in the United States and why Wisconsin?
I’m in Wisconsin because I believe it’s important for Hillary Clinton to not only win this state, but to win it big. I think it’s one thing to get the electoral votes that the state offers. It’s another for Wisconsin to send a loud, clear message of hope to young LGBT voters, to young women, to people of color — anyone who feels “other than” across this country — and to send a message to the world to say, loud and clear, this country is not made up of homophobes, misogynists, xenophobes or racists. I’d like to see Hillary Clinton win Wisconsin by double digits.
Are you on a national tour?
I’m (otherwise) in L.A. right now, editing When We Rise, this miniseries on the LGBT movement for ABC, and I’ve been working here and there for the campaign, fundraising and the like, for over a year now.
Living overseas must give you a unique perspective on America right now. How do people there view us?
For the most part, my friends over there are saying, “Don’t let a Brexit-style election happen in the United States. Make sure people get out and vote. Don’t necessarily sit and look at the polls and think everything is going to be all right.”
That’s what happened with Brexit, wasn’t it? The polls showed one thing and then the next day. …
Right. It was a really unpleasant surprise for people in England who believe in the value of diversity. And we can’t let that happen in the United States. Certainly, that’s what I’ve heard from all the folks I know in England: Use what happened there as a cautionary tale.
As much as you’re a Hillary supporter, is it fair to say you’re just as much, or even more, against Trump?
I was a Hillary supporter before Trump seemed like a possibility. I was passionate about her. Some of that is from the way I’ve seen her listen to folks within the LGBT community and change her position, becoming more aggressively pro-LGBT. That was very moving to me. How often do you see politicians change their mind? It was very meaningful to see the marriage equality fight. And I’m also passionate about Hillary because of the progressive ideas we share, that I believe she can make into a reality.
I think Trump will be remembered as one of the darker hours in this country.
You probably know that many young people, some of them perhaps as a protest vote, are looking very strongly at the Libertarian Party. Do you have any message for them?
I will admit, I’m a huge fan of Bernie Sanders. Always have been. Still am. I was always a Hillary supporter but I always admired Bernie. And one of the things I admired most about Bernie — and what I think motivated so many of my friends and their friends — was he was going to make college education affordable. That is not what a Libertarian will do. So if you’re thinking of voting for Gary Johnson — moving from Bernie Sanders to Gary Johnson — you better do your homework, because the only other candidate out there who believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to get a college education is Hillary Clinton.
And whom did she build the plan to make that a reality with? Bernie Sanders. Do your homework! Because if you wake up, having voted for Gary Johnson — we all know he’s not going to win, but if he did win — you could never afford a college education, nor could your children, unless you were wealthy in this country. Understand what the stakes are.
Tell us about When We Rise.
When We Rise is an eight-part miniseries on the LGBT movement in America from 1971 until about two years ago. It follows a handful of real people — but dramatized — who started their work in other social justice movements, whether that’s the women’s movement, the black civil rights movement, the peace movement back in the early 1970s. It comes out in February on ABC, which is a real coup. We’re getting to tell our LGBT stories in this sort of epic way on a network that everyone gets, no matter where you live.