Dustin Lance Black

Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black will be the keynote speaker for the 2012 LGBTQIA Conference at University of the Pacific in February.

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Academy Award Winner and LGBT Rights Activist to Speak at Pacific

by Lily PenfoldJan 23, 2012

Being raised in a Mormon home, Dustin Lance Black often struggled with questions about his sexuality.  It wasn't until his 20s that he "came out" as gay, but with that declaration, Black also became an activist for human rights and was determined to tell the stories of people whose relationships might not fit in with traditional definitions.

Today, Black is an Academy Award-winning gay rights activist. In February, Black is scheduled to be the keynote speaker to the Western Regional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Ally (LGBTQIA) conference at Pacific to discuss his career and activism.  The event will be Saturday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 a.m. in Faye Spanos Concert Hall. This lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited to first-come first serve. Seating priority will be given to attendees of the conference.

"Dustin Lance Black brings personal stories to life on the big screen and gets his viewers to question and examine what really constitutes a healthy relationship," said Steve Jacobson, associate vice president for Student Life. "In a time when there are heated public debates over what constitutes a family, Black's stories are more important than ever as they help remind us that ultimately we are talking about individuals and love."

Black won the 2009Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film "Milk," a movie that explores the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to be elected in the United States.  Sean Penn won the award for best actor for his role in that film. "Milk" also was nominated for best soundtrack, best supporting actor, best director, best editing and picture of the year.

Black also has worked on the television series "Big Love," which follows a fictional polygamist family, and recently wrote the screenplay for the Clint Eastwood film "J. Edgar," which explored the life of long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The Eastwood film was released in 2011.

Born in Sacramento and raised in Salinas, Calif., Black is an honors graduate of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. Beginning his career as an art director, Black quickly transitioned to directing and producing documentaries that educate people about different civil rights issues. Black's most notable documentaries include "On the Bus," a film that followed a group of gay men as they traveled to the annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada, and "My Life with Count Dracula," a film about Dr. Donald A. Reed, who created The Count Dracula Society, which later morphed into the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

Currently, Black is writing "The Barefoot Bandit" and then moving onto his next project titled "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Pacific's LGBTQIA conference is co-sponsored by the University of the Pacific and the University of California, Merced and will be held on Pacific's Stockton campus. Besides the Black lecture, the conference will include several educational sessions, other major speakers, and a Dance

For more information about Dustin Lance Black visit http://www.dustinlanceblack.com. For more information about the Western Regional LGBTQIA conference, visit comeoutwest.org.