Dustin Lance Black was invited to be the commencement speaker at his alma mater, Pasadena Community College. However, the school rescinded their invitation when it caught wind of a five-year-old photo “scandal” involving Black having what appeared to be unprotected sex with an ex-boyfriend.
The Milk screenwriter addressed the issue head-on in an open letter:
For too long now I’ve sat silent on this issue. That ends here and now and with this sentence: I did nothing wrong and I refuse to be shamed for this any longer.
In 2009 a group of people surreptitiously lifted images from my ex’s computer and shopped them around to gossip sites in a money-making scheme. These were old images from a far simpler time in my life, a time before digital camera phones and Internet scandals. They were photos of me with a man I cared for, a man who shared my Mormon background, and who was also struggling with who he was versus where he came from. And yes, we were doing what gay men do when they love and trust each other, we were having sex.
I have never lied about my sexuality. If you invade my privacy, this is what you will find. I have sex. It brings me joy, fosters intimacy and helps love grow. I hope anyone reading this can say the same for themselves and for their parents.
PCC has had its fair share of sex scandals recently, including the so-called “porno professor”—an instructor who admitted to sleeping with students. Another professor admitted to showing naked photos of himself to a student. “With the porno professor and the sex scandals we’ve had on campus this last year,” Board of Trustees President Anthony Fellow said in a statement, “it just didn’t seem like the right time for Mr. Black to be the speaker.”
Fellow went on to say that he didn’t want to give PCC “a bad name.”
I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get a worse name than “porno professor, but I digress. Black questioned if his sexuality had a part in the Board’s decision:
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?
As PCC Administrators attempt to shame me, they are casting a shadow over all LGBT students at PCC. They are sending the message that LGBT students are to be held to a different standard, that there is something inherently shameful about who we are and how we love, and that no matter what we accomplish in our lives, we will never be worthy of PCC’s praise.
Black also shows the receipts to some of the prestigious speaking engagements he’s had since 2009, noting that they never had a problem with his alleged “scandal.”