It was hate at first sight.
I met Lance through a guy I was dating, back in my Hollywood days. It was assumed, as aspiring screenwriters, we’d have much in common.
He was a preening snob, and proud of it. Within the first five minutes of our initial conversation, Lance (he had not yet become Dustin Lance) falsely insinuated that USC owned the rights to everything I wrote while enrolled in its Graduate Screenwriting Program. “You should’ve checked on that before spending all that money,” he said, effortlessly condescending.
Then he corrected me on my pronunciation of Truffaut, as in Francois. He was wrong.
We rarely spoke again, save for the mutual exchange of piercing glances whenever our paths crossed. After I broke up with his friend, I didn’t see him much, a nice bonus.
A few years later, I was involved in a promising relationship with a guy well above my pay grade. Then that Lance person intervened.
We were talking about people or things we hate (a conversation I likely instigated) when Lance’s name came up. I had no idea the guy even knew my nemesis. “Dustin Lance Black is one my favorite people in the world.”
That was some seven years ago. Today I received an e-mail from an old L.A. friend asking if the writer of the upcoming Sean Penn flick, “Milk”, was the Dustin Lance Black. No. Can’t be.
It’s late on a sunny Thursday morning in the Castro when a slim and radiantly beautiful young man, someone who would not seem out of place on the set of a Harry Potter movie, climbs the stairs of my Market Street flat, plops himself down on the worn, black couch, and explains why he’s spent nearly half his life pursuing a dream to turn the life of a martyred gay politician into a film. Dustin Lance Black is a polite and focused young man, a multi-talented writer/filmmaker who’s spent the decade since college finding a creative platform to exorcise the demons of a complicated childhood spent boomeranging between military installations in the Central Valley and a Texas city that’s home to the Alamo and his Mormon parents.
Might as well pierce my genitals with a rusty ice pick.
Oh, and I won’t be seeing “Milk”.
(atlpaddy chimes in with the perfect comparison. I’m Andy Millman.)