As the dark spectre of 2016 and a radically changed political landscape continue to hang over the new year, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black is hoping that his eagerly anticipated new drama series When We Rise will help inspire a new generation to fight for LGBT+ equality.
In an exclusive interview in Attitude’s February issue – available to download now and in shops from Wednesday, 4 January – Black reveals how his relationship with British Olympic star Tom Daley has helped to inspire his work, recalls the struggle of growing up gay in the Mormon Church, and explains why When We Rise, his new eight-hour mini-series charting the struggle of four LGBT+ activists over five decades set to air in the US next month, has taken on a new power in the wake of last year’s political upheaval.
“We’re in one right now, a worldwide backlash where people are talking about building walls and closing borders instead of understanding and embracing their neighbour,” Black says.
“I hope to inspire a new generation to stand up and fight back and protect what we have in a moment of darkness like this.”
As one of Hollywood’s most influential gay figures, Black has plenty to say about the institutional homophobia which has long prevented A-list stars from publicly acknowledging their sexuality – and he’s clear about where the blame lies.
“I’ve never encountered homophobia in casting from the studios or networks, not once, not ever. Where you encounter it is with the agents and the managers, they’re the ones who have an outdated notion of the price an actor might pay if it’s discovered that they’re LGBTQ… often they don’t want to see anything happen that might compromise their investment,” he explains.
“I think they cripple their actors because they stunt the star’s ability to be open and honest, and an audience can feel that.”
And as for actors who wilfully mislead the public themselves?
“I have no respect for someone who lies about their sexuality. At the very least say “no comment,” just keep your personal life personal. But if you’re going to closet yourself, that sends a negative message.”
You can read our full feature with Dustin Lance Black and see his exclusive shoot in Attitude’s February issue, available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude.
It’s in shops this Wednesday, 4 January, and print copies are available to order globally from newsstand.co.uk/attitude.