Dustin Lance Black Remembers His Late Gay Brother, Who As A “Redneck” Had A Harder Time Coming Out


We say, ‘It gets better,’ but what work are we doing to make sure it gets better everywhere?

It really hit home for me in the past few months because my very tough, auto-mechanic, NASCAR-loving brother came out of the closet a couple of years ago and he was having a really hard time.

And I kept giving him all of my ‘It gets better’ and all my hope speeches. And it just wasn’t helping. I felt like a fool. I felt very self-centered, because of course it got better for me—I came out in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He came out in Texas and Michigan and Virginia, where you still lose your job and your home for being gay. And nobody’s coming out in his communities. There’s not a feeling of hope in his communities…

He just really is the quintessential, sort of stereotypical—my mom would be mad at me if I say this, but it is true, and he said it—he was a redneck. I never imagined it.

When he called me up on the phone, I could hear something was wrong. He said, ‘You know my friend Larry?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Larry—missing tooth, likes to watch NASCAR, like to kill animals together?’ He was like, ‘Yeah. Larry broke up with me.’ I was like, ‘Really? That’s shocking!’ I felt like, in a way, I was discriminating [against] people like that. I was stereotyping people because I never figured he was or could have been [gay].’

At a certain point I came out and I found my voice and he never did. And he sort of was lost for many years because he wasn’t able to.

8 playwright Dustin Lance Black laments that his older gay brother (who died suddenly of cancer earlier this year) never quite found himself as a gay man, in a conversation with the Huffington Post’s Michelangelo Signorile

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  • Franco

    How sad. Life can be cruel.

  • Nick

    RIP Marcus

  • Rich

    Precisely why it is up to each individual on when and how they come out. How dare gay people make demands of other gay people to come out.

  • MEJ

    We can put the blame for this squarely at the feet of the media. The only representation we see of gay people are white, middle-class/wealthy, beautiful urbanites.

    Until TV, movies, and magazines start presenting gay people as we really are–all shapes, sizes, colours, religions, incomes, and living places, people won’t see us as diversified as we really are. And more importantly, we gay people won’t see ourselves represented.

  • Chuck

    Amazing that two brothers led such different lives. Certainly reinforces the theory that red states are bad for gay peoples’ health.

  • hi2u2

    I think its easy for people to forget who live in the large cities that are more excepting that middle america can still be very anti gay. I grew up and live in a rural IL community. The only person i knew who came out got his face bashed into the locker until he was unrecgonizable. The guy who did was uspended for 2 days while the victim was asked by the police to xfer schools for his saftey. No charges were ever filed. This is just one example of thousands. Which is why fighting for full equality is a must. Eventually minds and hearts will change.

  • MEJ


    When was this, and whatever happened to the guy who was bashed?

  • christopher di crapito

    Poor Dustin Bareback felt like a fool. Hmmmm, maybe its because he is one?

  • Chuck

    @hi2u2: Sad. You are so right though. The fact that you can be fired for being gay in most of the United States is really a national tragedy that needs far more attention.

  • Tyler

    I agree Christopher Di Crapito, Dustin Lance Black is an idiot and the whole “It gets better” canned speeches are total BS. He should understand that not everyone that’s LGBT wants to move into a gay/GLBT ghetto in an urban area. Also despite stereotypes I’ve lived in rural areas and people there were way more open about being LGBT and accepting about LGBT people than when I lived in a large city on the east coast.

  • Kyle

    For some reason, I am not a big fan of this guy. There is something about him that screams ‘Uncle Tom” or “self-loathing”….or, something else. But, there is something about him, I don’t like. You ever get that feeling, when somebody just isn’t who they truly present to the world, and you know there is something off about them? That’s how I feel about him.

  • Drew

    Let’s face it the whole “IT gets better” campaign is a failure and Dustin Lance Black is assuming that if you’re gay or bisexual you have to be effeminate.

    It gets better is just a bullshit PR campaign, nothing more. Telling kids to put up with bullying until they leave school is not constructive advice. It’s cruel. School boards, school administrators, teachers, etc, need to have zero tolerance policy for bullying. It’s not uncommon for teachers and even some school administrators to bully unpopular kids themselves. That’s where the changes need to be made… The reason “It Gets Better” caught on with politicians and celebrities is because it’s great PR and it requires absolutely NOTHING from them in the way of real action.

  • LittleKiwi

    actually, this is why adults need to Come Out – to open the doors for others. the continuing Closet Culture is what leads to this sad story.

    there is no such thing as “forcing people to Come Out” – as those people are already allowing others to force them to Stay In.

  • LittleKiwi

    and the “It Gets Better” campaign is what you make of it. there’s nothing stopping any of YOU from posting a video where you SHOW people HOW they can make their lives better, and show people how two proactively make things better for others.

    nobody ever said it was “the only thing to do” – it was, and is, simply one way of many that people can make a positive impact for LGBT youth without spending a dime.

    truly. if you feel the campaign “isn’t doing it right” then you can make your own video wherein you share a message that you feel isnt’ being shared.

    complaining about the It Gets Better campaign is sort of useless – the campaign is done by every day folks. it’s not about PR, as literally ANYONE can make a video. and in that video they can share any helpful message, and any piece of applicable advice that they want to share.


    of course, this will be lost on the folks who complain about anything and everything from a place of Online Closeted Anonymity.

    the campaign was not just done by “politicians and celebrities” but by LGBT people, and their friends and family and allies. i made a video. my straight sister made a video. my parents made a video. my straight brother-in-law made a video.
    and they also are visible and vocal advocates in their everyday lives.

    that’s how we win – when we empower people to stand up to be counted, rather than continuing to give excuses to stay closeted. and no, im not talking about at-risk youth i’m talking about the grown adults who continue to give excuses for NOT HELPING OTHERS.

    if you’re not ready to Come Out, at least have the decency and integrity to pretend to be a straight person who believes in, and PROMOTES, Equality and Acceptance for LGBT People.

    we adults have a responsibility to open the door for the next generations.

    watch. share with friends and family. this is how we end this culture of prejudice.

  • Cam

    Did I miss something? People are attacking this guy saying that the campaign is useless etc…

    He basically said the same thing. He said, “well what are we doing to MAKE it get better?” and saying that actions needed to be taken, not just words.

    I just thought it was weird that people were attacking him, and as a reason for attacking him they were typing a statement that was in full agreement with what he said.

    As for the media only portraying beautiful gays….I would like to point out CAM on Modern Family. Not my idea of hotness.

  • LittleKiwi

    Cam, it’s the insecure knee-jerk responses from the same type of people: grown adults who are Closeted not because of any actual real threats to their safety and wellbeing, but out of personal VANITY.

    here’s something monumental that the It Gets Better campaign has achieved: it finally got the rest of the world talking about the LGBT Youth suicide rate. The rate has not gone up – it’s been this way for decades. It’s only until recently that the non-gay world finally started giving a f**k.

    it’s very easy for people to come on here and criticize Dustin and the campaign from the anonymity of the Internet Closet.
    i dare say, naysayers, what are YOU doing to affect positive change? if you feel the campaign isn’t enough, SHOW US instead what YOU are doing that you feel is better.

    provide the URL to your own site or youtube page where you can show us all the specific ways in which you are helping promote LGBT Equality.

    the campaign is done By The People – nothing is stopping any of you from being visible and vocal advocates but yourselves.

    the campaign is no failure at all – the world is finally, and for the first time, talking about LGBT suicides and the culture of bullying and prejudice that leads people to continue to live in the Closets they were born into.

    dont’ complain. SHOW US what YOU are doing to change things.

  • Mitch

    *Yawn* The troll LittleKiwi is back, weren’t you banned from this site? No not everyone who doesn’t like the “It gets better” project/PR campaign is closeted. Dustin is a media whore and is clearly a pretty homophobic queen as he said in his own words.

  • LittleKiwi

    banned? no. i grew tired of insecure closet-cases spewing miserable nonsense from a place of cowardly anonymity.

    sad to see none of you have grown much.

    what is there to dislike about the It Gets Better campaign? ANYONE can make a video. if you think the videos haven’t been useful enough, make your own where you give the messages you feel are most needed.

    so, have you made a video? if not, why not? you can’t complain that the campaign isn’t good when you could simply make a video yourself wherein you share a message that you feel will be more beneficial to LGBT Youth.

    i’d love to see the link to your own video. :D

  • LittleKiwi

    rather than complain about Dustin Lance Black, i’d love for you to instead share video of the specific pro-LGBT work that you and your family and friends have been doing for the last few years.


  • Matt

    The problem with the IGB campaign is that it’s like Drew said it’s a pointless PR Campaign and now many LGBT kids who even made IGB videos have decided to off themselves, and GLBT youth are not even watching the videos. The campaign itself does nothing at all to actually stop bullying or help LGBT kids who are at risk and suicidal. The creator of the IGB campaign Dan Savage is nothing but a professional media whore and he’s been highly bigoted towards bisexuals, trans people, and African Americans and he’s the last person who should be running any sort of campaign to help LGBT youth since he’s a bully and if you don’t agree with his Log Cabin lite politics he’ll be the first to throw you under the bus as those of us who are from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest have known this about him for decades. Savage started the IGB project not to actually help LGBT youth but to get a reality TV show on MTV and get money.

  • Keith

    What a surprise, Dustin Lance Black opens up his mouth yet again and shit spews out. The movie Milk he directed sucked and does not even tell the actual story of Harvey Milk, completely conveniently erases how Milk was a chickenhawk and into underage guys, and it does not show how the city of SF and America and LGBT politics were actually like in the 70s.

  • LittleKiwi

    Dan Savage is not the It Gets Better campaign.

    i repeat, how the campaign have a “problem” when guys like YOU could simply make your own videos wherein you share the specific messages that you feel are not being shared?

    Until 2010, nobody cared that LGBT Youth have been committing suicide at a disproportionate rate. Finally, FINALLY, people are talking about it.

    The It Gets Better campaign on youtube is free. ANY of you could make a video. What are you doing, instead? Coming on here to complain about the campaign? Congrats, you’re as useful as tits on a fish.

    I’ll ask again – rather than you guys coming on here to make pathetic and baseless complaints about the campaign, what are you SPECIFICALLY DOING to affect positive change for LGBT people in our culture?

    hating dan savage won’t help LGBT Youth. coming on here to say how much you hate the IGB campaign won’t help LGBT YOuth.

    so, what are you guys specifically doing to help LGBT Youth?

    how can it be a pointless PR Campaign when literally ANYONE can make a video?

    you all sure do love to criticize, and it speaks volumes that none of you can provide any sort of link that shows the specific pro-Equality work you should be doing in your own lives.

    look how easy that was. so, complainers, can you show us instead the work you think is going to have more impact?

  • LittleKiwi

    trollkeith, black didn’t direct it, he wrote it.

    and, as usual, your nonsense comments come from a place of cowardly anonymity. just once i wish you bitter losers had the balls to show yourselves.

    i suppose the good news is that you’re closeted in your own lives and thus will have no impact whatsoever on the world.

    it’s the same old story – angry miserable commenter comes on to spew bile, anonymously. you’re such cowards.

  • Keith

    First off I’m not closeted and I’ve been out for longer than you’ve been alive. You’ve got your own head so far up your ass that you’re nothing but a troll and are quick to flame people who don’t agree with you completely, or who happen not to like media whores like Dustin Lance Black.

  • LittleKiwi

    i call your bluff. you didn’t even know that Black wrote the film, and it was directed by Gus Van Sant.

    clearly you’re not playing with a full deck.

    i’m simply calling out baseless nonsense from cowards who post from a place of online anonymity.

    you dont’ like “media whores” like dustin lance black? ten bucks says you can’t provide a URL to show us all the much-more-effective pro-LGBT work you’ve been (cough) doing for decades :D

    trolls, by nature, are those who come on to spew anonymous venom. i’m no troll for calling out your cowardice.

  • Keith

    Happy now? I linked my blog.

  • LittleKiwi

    …..any particular reason this blog of yours says nothing about you, doesn’t show you, and seems to be a collection of photos of … Israeli guys?

  • LittleKiwi

    omg, the more i read the crazier it gets.. you criticize harvey milk (!?) and yet your blog, which contains nothing about YOU nor about LGBT Equality, is merely a collecting of young men that you think are hot.

    wow. yeah. you’re totally changing the world with this one :D

    how dare that horrible Dustin Lance Black be such a media whore when he’d do better collecting pictures of young men and …uh..posting them online. yeah. right :D

  • LittleKiwi

    no joke – Keith – your “blog” is a collection of shirtless or semi-nude photos of very young men, some who are more than obviously teens! um, hi creepy! what was that about Milk being a chicken-hawk again? from the looks of your blog you like ’em rather young. consider me creeped the hell out. thanks.

    nothing about you, nothing about equality – just shirtless young males. just so you know, perving at young males through your camera lens doesn’t count as being an LGBT Equality Advocate.

  • Keith

    They’re adults, and they are hot Israeli men since I am from there and I’m out as a gay man. I travel a lot and if I take a picture of someone I ask permission before doing this. I have pics on my blog from LGBT pride at Tel Aviv. Then again if you’d actually read my blog you’d know that about me. ;)

  • LittleKiwi

    i read page after page. nothing about you. tonnes of shirtless young males.

    viva la revolution, indeed.

  • Belize


    (hands you a glass of water.)

    Work it, girl.

  • LittleKiwi

    @Belize: three snaps in a Z-formation ;-)


  • Greg

    I agree Rich and Kyle. There are actually a lot of LGBT people who are out in red states and who live in small towns and life is not a living hell for them since that’s a myth that urban queens like the professional gay Dustin Lance Black love to perpetuate.

  • Shannon1981

    I applaud this young man, honestly, because I know where he is coming from.

    I am black, gay, and gender variant in the bible belt. Whether they said it directly or not. they used the high heels as an excuse to expel an African American openly gay kid. They did. I don’t give a damn how you feel about his fashion sense. That is irrelevant. Try being black and openly queer in any way in one of these places and get back to me. I assure you, the answer will be what I just said: they just don’t fucking like you, and they will do ANYTHING to make sure you know it and to make your life a living hell.

  • Max

    Shannon WTF are you talking about? Stop smoking crack.

  • LittleKiwi

    speaking from experience are we greg? i’d love to see you post some videos on youtube where you show what a wonderfully inclusive family and community you live in, and how you’re all helping promote LGBT Equality.

    care to share?

    i dunno. my urban queer ass simply knows so many people who had to all-but-flee to the Big Cities to escape the smalltown bigotry of their red-state Hell.

    if you, Greg, have a different experience i’d love for you to share it with us all by perhaps making a youtube video, or sharing a link to your own webpage.

    after all, the best way to prove Dustin Lance Black wrong is to stop complaining anonymously, and actually PROVE him wrong, via video.

    so, gonna?

  • Sam

    Little Kiwi, your coercion will not work, give it up already dude. Not everyone has to have a blog, site, or u-tube vids whatever in order to be out of the closet by your standards. No one has to give into your demands. Always the same crap, different day, “…show your self, show me your site and videos or you’re not out, put up a pic, or you’re not masculine and hate effeminates…” Give it a rest. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, we got it…you’re here, you’re queer, good for you haha thankfully not everyone is exactly like you.

  • Unfortunately

    This kiwi person must be terrified of being ignored and irrelevant like he is, which is why he posts links links links to his boring blog and youtube as if we’re somehow supposed to care. He can pretend he’s some LGBT equality activist and changing the world with his pointless videos and blog but in reality he’s a nobody and a troll.

  • BubbasBack

    Dustin Lance Black and Dan Savage – things have gotten better for them. What about for us? Can we get better representatives of our community? Or are we damned like the chicken I’ll be having for breakfast? Burp.

  • the crustybastard

    @MEJ: We can put the blame for this squarely at the feet of the media. The only representation we see of gay people are white, middle-class/wealthy, beautiful urbanites.”

    That’s not fair. Lesbians are frequently portrayed as humorless frumpy flannel-wearing animal-rescue-obsessed vegan eco-hippies reeking of patchouli.

    Until TV, movies, and magazines start presenting gay people as we really are–all shapes, sizes, colours, religions, incomes, and living places, people won’t see us as diversified as we really are. And more importantly, we gay people won’t see ourselves represented.”

    Fortunately, gays have their own channel — LOGO…which has decided they’re not going to do gay programming any more.

    Anyway, point taken. If gays run Hollywood, they’re doing a piss-poor job.

  • Bradlee

    Look at me, I’m posting anonymously under a fake name (or twenty…) and commenting negatively against people who can link to their own pages that show who they are. And now I’m going to pretend that posting from my multiple anonymous profiles means that I’m not the scared little wimp who’s “pretending” to be something and someone else. because if i don’t lie to myself and create fake profiles to back up my cowardly statements then I’ll be forced to accept that I was born with capers for testes.

  • JayKKK

    liberal gays are losers, unlike us gay republicans who are skilled at posting anonymous comments online because we don’t have the balls to speak out against anti-gay bigotry in our own lives.

Comments are closed.