Dustin Lance Black Accepts Re-Invite as College Speaker

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday May 6, 2014

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black announced this week that he will be his alma mater's commencement speaker after the school initially uninvited him over a 2009 sex scandal.

In a press release by Pasadena City College, school officials announced Black, 39, will deliver the college's 89th commencement address.

"It's time to move forward and put the focus where it should be-on the students," Black said in the statement. "I look forward to the honor of returning to PCC to support the 2014 graduates of Pasadena City College."

It was reported last month that PCC administrators uninvited Black as speaker due to explicit sex photos that leaked in 2009, which showed Black having unprotected sex with his then boyfriend. When the screenwriter and LGBTQ activist found out the school had uninvited him, he fired back in an open letter published in Out magazine.

"With this cruel act, PCC's Administration is punishing the victim. And I ask you this: If I was a heterosexual man or woman with this same painful injury in my past, would PCC's Administration still be rescinding such an honor?" he said. "In fact, PCC is now only the second institution to ever blame me for what happened in 2009. The first was Hope College in Michigan whose Dean pro-actively made a statement openly admitting he did not want a pro-LGBT message on his campus. It seems to me that same animus is at play here now."

Last week, PCC officials changed their mind and invited Black back.

"[Black] has distinguished himself as a film producer and a champion of equal rights and protections for all regardless of sexual orientation," PCC President Mark Rocha said in announcement according to Pasadena Star News. "The Board of Trustees and college administration deeply respect Mr. Black, his work and his causes. The Board also sincerely apologizes to Mr. Black for any actions that may have caused hurt."

Black graduated from PCC in 1994 and went on to win an Academy Award for his screenplay for the film "Milk," which told the story of the life of LGBT activist Harvey Milk.

"All of us at PCC are so proud of Mr. Black and are delighted he is returning to his alma mater," said PCC Superintendent-President Mark Rocha in a statement. "Mr. Black's career represents a rare blend of public leadership, and creativity. Additionally, he has generously committed his attention and resources to fighting for LGBTQ equality, the arts, and-not least of all-education."


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