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