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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > Issue 279 > RISE UP

RISE UP

YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS TOM DALEY’S HUSBAND-TO-BE, BUT DUSTIN LANCE BLACK IS AN OSCAR-WINNING SCREENWRITER WHO HOPES HIS LATEST TV SHOW WILL EDUCATE AND INSPIRE A NEW GENERATION OF LGBT+ ACTIVISTS
Dustin wears jacket by Dsquared2, jeans by APC at MR PORTER, boots by Palladium
Dustin wears jacket by Dsquared2, jeans by APC at MR PORTER, trainers by Christian Louboutin

“TOM’S MY BIGGEST CHAMPION.”

He’s one of the few people who’s seen it from beginning to end. I rarely see him cry but he was moved and said: ‘I had no idea that all of that happened and that we’ve survived all of that’.”

This is Dustin Lance Black’s reply when I ask what his fiancé, Olympic diver Tom Daley, thinks about the forthcoming TV series, When We Rise, of which Black is executive producer as well as creator.

Daley’s opinion goes beyond mere approval for a project that is deeply personal to Black. The response the new drama elicited from Tom is perhaps the most reassuring recognition that Black has achieved at least one of his goals with the show: to stir the emotions of a younger generation by telling the stories of LGBT+ heroes of the past.

Black is that rare kind of writer who has been able to turn the subject he is most passionate about — our queer history — into plays, TV dramas and, in the case of Milk, an Oscar-winning movie. The film won the Academy Award for best original screenplay and starred Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first out gay man elected to public office in California, who was assassinated just 11 months later.

Milk’s death inspired countless activists in the USA and is part of a narrative of LGBT+ history that has been virtually invisible in the mainstream media.

With an Oscar under his belt, Black could easily embrace Hollywood and tackle stories that bring in big bucks, but his superheroes don’t fly around wearing their underwear on the outside, shooting villians with laser beams from their eyes. His heroes are the oppressed people on the ground, those who break down walls, empowered by a passion to bring equality to a world blighted by prejudice.

“I think politics is personal,” he tells me after his photoshoot for Attitude.

Black was just six years old when he first heard the word “homosexual.” It was spoken by a Mormon prophet who claimed that being attracted to another man was equivalent to being a murderer. “I knew I would bring great shame to myself and my family if anyone ever found out. I felt isolated and alone,” he reveals.

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About Attitude

Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning writer and creator of the exciting new TV series When We Rise, is on the cover of the latest issue of Attitude. Elsewhere in this issue: exclusive interview with the cast and creators of Moonlight, one of the most powerful gay films ever. Pop minx Bebe Rexha is ready to take over music. A special report on Kiev, Ukraine and whether it’s ready – and safe – for Eurovision. Travel issue special featuring New York, Ibiza, Paris, Fort Lauderdale, and more. PLUS: ‘Made in LA’, your FREE guide to Los Angeles.
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