Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dustin Lance Black Goes Home

From the story of Dustin Lance Black's return to his high school. Black is the Academy Award winning screenwriter of "Milk."

My palms got a little sweaty as I turned off East Alvin Drive in Salinas, and onto Kip Drive.

For the first time in 17 years, I saw the entrance to my old high school, the same one where I was once called “gay” by my peers. And it wasn’t said as a compliment — it was said with hate, anger, and on one occasion I was honestly afraid of getting my butt whipped.

So, I did what so many kids still do — I tried to vanish. I didn’t get great grades, I didn’t excel, I shrunk and hid, and I did my best to disappear at lunch. High school is tough for almost everyone, but for LGBT kids, it can be truly frightening. And as much as I know that I’m all grown up now, and that I can stand up for myself, I still got a little knot in my stomach as we pulled up to the front doors of North Salinas High and the camera crews closed in.


Now, these aren’t rich, liberal kids. I grew up in a predominantly working class, Latino, conservative Christian neighborhood. These kids are minorities, they understand discrimination, and I wanted them to know that those of us in the LGBT community know we must fight just as hard for their rights as we do for our own, that we are all brothers and sisters in this fight for equal opportunity.


So I have to thank the Principal and faculty at North Salinas High, this unlikeliest of schools, for creating the atmosphere where kids like me don’t just feel tolerated, but feel protected, loved and celebrated. I challenge other schools around this country to follow their brave lead.

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