Oscar-winning scribe, Milk writer Dustin Lance Black, enjoys a cup of coffee with a friend in West Hollywood on Wednesday (February 25).
The 34-year-old screenwriter accepted the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay on Sunday. His acceptance speech was censored in fifty different Asian nations by pan-Asian satellite TV network STAR, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
STAR spokeswoman Jannie Poon defended the network’s muting of the words “gay” and “lesbian” by saying STAR has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”
Here’s Dustin’s uncensored speech in its entirety: “This was was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story. 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 one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.
(Continue reading Dustin’s Oscar speech inside…)
“I wanna 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, 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.”
And here’s some additional backstage Q&A of Dustin from the Oscars:
Congratulations on your win. It was very touching, and I loved what you said. Do you think President Obama should reverse the stand on gay marriage? I think that there’s a few things that I would love him to do immediately, which is to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” and DMA, Defensive Marriage Act. But I do think that for inspiration for the gay community, we need to look not to Proposition 8, but dream bigger and look back to 1964 and the Civil Rights Act, because no group has ever won full civil rights in this country going state by state or county by county. I think it is time for the gay and lesbian community to have a federal civil rights act for full civil rights.
So you think it should be reversed? Absolutely. We are equal. Everyone.
You were talking about how you were inspired by Harvey Milk when you were a kid. What would have happened if, say, you were 13 and you saw someone like you at the Oscars, saying what you said? What do you think that would have done for you back then? I don’t know. I didn’t hear that at the Oscars when I was a 13 year old kid. You know, I just hope it makes you feel a bit less alone. It’s easy in San Francisco and L.A. and New York, Chicago, because you can find support, you can find mentors and heroes. But where I’m from, and a lot of places, you know in this country, in small town America, they just don’t know there are gay heroes, and they don’t know there’s other gay people, and they don’t know there’s a potential future, I mean a beautiful future. I mean, look at this; it’s insane for out gay people. I hope it inspires some folks.
Working on the screenplay that you did, have you ever have the dream of an Oscar moment or award moment? Did it fulfill the expectation that you felt? It’s all sort of an out of body thing. I mean, definitely, when we started this journey, I was, you know, just charging hotel stays and gasoline on my credit card and driving out to meet with Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg in San Francisco. There’s no studio, things like that. Your dream is don’t screw it up, first of all; and your second is, let’s get it to a great director. And I was fortunate and got it to Sean and it just kept being the next thing in front of you. And then all of a sudden, four weeks ago was a nomination, and it’s just sort of unbelievable. I don’t quite believe it yet. Maybe when I see my mom in a few minutes, I’ll believe it.
Did you know what you were going to say if and when you got up there? I had an idea. I mean, for me, the whole thing was always just sort of, you know, pay it forward. You know, Harvey gave me his story. And Harvey gave me his story and it saved my life. I just thought it’s time to pass it on. So the only thing I really knew I wanted to say is tell those kids out there they are going to be all right.
You’re making us all emotional. You’ve mentioned your mom a couple times. Was there something your mom said to you right before you came in came here tonight or were on the red carpet? Is there something you guys talked about that really struck a chord with you? You know, she always, you know, she just says, “I can’t believe we are here. Think of where we came from.” You know, we were, like, a broke family. It was just my single mom raising us for a very long time before my beautiful stepdad came around, and, you know, and it was just about survival for so long. So, I think for her, she’s completely overwhelmed and, you know, and she just does what she always does. I mean, this is a Mormon woman who should not be accepting or loving, and she just says I love you, and I want you to fall in love and be as happy as I am, so…
I wanted to know at what point did you think that this film could grab the attention of the Academy? I think that’s an easy one. I think it was the moment we first saw Sean with his hair cut with the suit on, and he came in, onto the set. And I was blown away at how much it reminded me of everything I’d heard and seen of Harvey. And I looked out to turn to Cleve and I went, “My God. That’s him, isn’t it?” And Cleve was outside like smoking manically going, “Oh, my God. I’ve seen a ghost.” But that was the thing. I thought this film would only succeed if we could somehow get close to that charisma, because that charisma of Harvey Milk is what transcended our community again and reached out to all these other people and will embrace the film. I think they have.