Right before the White House Correspondents Dinner I did a piece in The Hollywood Reporter that went after both candidates on marriage equality. I certainly hit Romney pretty hard, and rightfully so. But I also went a little Harvey Milk and asked if we really wanted to cast our vote for any candidate who doesn’t have a full equality stance. That we might want to consider withholding our money and support. Otherwise we’ll continually be satisfied with crumbs.
There’s a great quote from Harvey: “Masturbation is fun but it doesn’t take the place of the real thing. It’s time the gay community to stop playing with itself and get down to the real thing. If you ask for the real thing you might be surprised that you’ll actually get it.” It’s one of my favorite Harvey quotes. He used it whenever people told him he was asking for too much in 1975, and I think about it all the time.
It’s amazing that we don’t show ourselves the respect in demanding what the U.S. Supreme Court has called a fundamental right, instead of asking for it here and there, incrementally. That might come off as politically naive, but our role is the activist role. We’re not here to help them figure out how to parse our requests. We’re here to ask for what we know we deserve.
Obama’s statement was one of those rare moments where a politician did something incredibly brave—something possibly dangerous—and he actually gave us everything we asked for. He came out in a clear, personal way in favor of equal marriage for gays and lesbians. I never expected him to be that clear and do it so soon. I have to say I was mostly moved because of the timing. He was brave because he’s in the middle of an election.
He did it the day right after North Carolina and I was getting flooded with emails and Facebook messages from these young people who had fought so hard against Amendment One and felt so despondent. They felt all the injuries they felt growing up and being picked on coming back—they’d just been bullied by their own state. I just know all too well what they were going through. I was trying my best to [console them] but Obama came and just blew me out of the water.
If the President wanted to put me in my place, he sure did. And he can keep doing that.”
Oscar-winning screenwriter/activist Dustin Lance Black, discussing Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of marriage equality, with Queerty’s Dan Avery. Black’s directorial debut, Virgina, hits theaters on Friday, May 18. Photos: Adam Emperor Southard Photography, Earthlina