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Dustin Lance Black's Oscar Acceptance Speech Gets Censored In Asian Broadcasts

Dustin Lance Black's Oscar Acceptance Speech Gets Censored In Asian Broadcasts

Oscar-winning scribe, Milk writer Dustin Lance Black, enjoys a cup of coffee with a friend in West Hollywood on Wednesday (February 25).

The 34-year-old screenwriter accepted the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay on Sunday. His acceptance speech was censored in fifty different Asian nations by pan-Asian satellite TV network STAR, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corporation.

STAR spokeswoman Jannie Poon defended the network’s muting of the words “gay” and “lesbian” by saying STAR has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”

Here’s Dustin‘s uncensored speech in its entirety: “This was was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story. When I was 13-years-old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

(Continue reading Dustin‘s Oscar speech inside…)

“I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.”

And here’s some additional backstage Q&A of Dustin from the Oscars:

Congratulations on your win. It was very touching, and I loved what you said. Do you think President Obama should reverse the stand on gay marriage? I think that there’s a few things that I would love him to do immediately, which is to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” and DMA, Defensive Marriage Act. But I do think that for inspiration for the gay community, we need to look not to Proposition 8, but dream bigger and look back to 1964 and the Civil Rights Act, because no group has ever won full civil rights in this country going state by state or county by county. I think it is time for the gay and lesbian community to have a federal civil rights act for full civil rights.

So you think it should be reversed? Absolutely. We are equal. Everyone.

You were talking about how you were inspired by Harvey Milk when you were a kid. What would have happened if, say, you were 13 and you saw someone like you at the Oscars, saying what you said? What do you think that would have done for you back then? I don’t know. I didn’t hear that at the Oscars when I was a 13 year old kid. You know, I just hope it makes you feel a bit less alone. It’s easy in San Francisco and L.A. and New York, Chicago, because you can find support, you can find mentors and heroes. But where I’m from, and a lot of places, you know in this country, in small town America, they just don’t know there are gay heroes, and they don’t know there’s other gay people, and they don’t know there’s a potential future, I mean a beautiful future. I mean, look at this; it’s insane for out gay people. I hope it inspires some folks.

Working on the screenplay that you did, have you ever have the dream of an Oscar moment or award moment? Did it fulfill the expectation that you felt? It’s all sort of an out of body thing. I mean, definitely, when we started this journey, I was, you know, just charging hotel stays and gasoline on my credit card and driving out to meet with Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg in San Francisco. There’s no studio, things like that. Your dream is don’t screw it up, first of all; and your second is, let’s get it to a great director. And I was fortunate and got it to Sean and it just kept being the next thing in front of you. And then all of a sudden, four weeks ago was a nomination, and it’s just sort of unbelievable. I don’t quite believe it yet. Maybe when I see my mom in a few minutes, I’ll believe it.

Did you know what you were going to say if and when you got up there? I had an idea. I mean, for me, the whole thing was always just sort of, you know, pay it forward. You know, Harvey gave me his story. And Harvey gave me his story and it saved my life. I just thought it’s time to pass it on. So the only thing I really knew I wanted to say is tell those kids out there they are going to be all right.

You’re making us all emotional. You’ve mentioned your mom a couple times. Was there something your mom said to you right before you came in came here tonight or were on the red carpet? Is there something you guys talked about that really struck a chord with you? You know, she always, you know, she just says, “I can’t believe we are here. Think of where we came from.” You know, we were, like, a broke family. It was just my single mom raising us for a very long time before my beautiful stepdad came around, and, you know, and it was just about survival for so long. So, I think for her, she’s completely overwhelmed and, you know, and she just does what she always does. I mean, this is a Mormon woman who should not be accepting or loving, and she just says I love you, and I want you to fall in love and be as happy as I am, so…

I wanted to know at what point did you think that this film could grab the attention of the Academy? I think that’s an easy one. I think it was the moment we first saw Sean with his hair cut with the suit on, and he came in, onto the set. And I was blown away at how much it reminded me of everything I’d heard and seen of Harvey. And I looked out to turn to Cleve and I went, “My God. That’s him, isn’t it?” And Cleve was outside like smoking manically going, “Oh, my God. I’ve seen a ghost.” But that was the thing. I thought this film would only succeed if we could somehow get close to that charisma, because that charisma of Harvey Milk is what transcended our community again and reached out to all these other people and will embrace the film. I think they have.

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Photos: RAM/Fame Pictures
Posted to: Dustin Lance Black, Oscars 2009

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  • Sam

    his oscar speech was the best of the night

  • ally

    his was the best of the night… i cant believe that they censored it

  • mika

    i thought his speech was good. isn’t that quite offensive to censor “gay” and “lesbian”.

  • ~m~

    His speech was so moving and very well said
    but this censoring thing shows that there’s still a long way to go until equal rights will be achieved, very sad :(
    I am proud to live in a country where gay marriage is legal and if i were living in the states i would have deffinitely voted against prop 8, its ridiculous

  • kellie

    the world is awfully ignorant, we really need to learn to love and accept f**k asian broadcasts. beautiful message, may have saved some young’ns life.

  • Janie

    His speech was very moving! It was beautiful! I am beyond happy he won! :) He deserved it no question!

  • pump it

    It is incredibly sad to think that there are still “markets” out there that find those words so offensive that they have to bleep them out. That in itself is offensive beyond belief. Disgusting and very very sad.

  • joss

    I don’t see the problem with saying “gay” or “lesbian”
    like seriously, what world do we live in? his speech was probably the best of the night

  • hypocrites

    enough of equality bullshit..asians are not prejudiced against gays but we are definitely not in a position to condone anything deemed unnatural…who said we do not accept them as any other human being???only people in US i think…but then again..we also still think wht is not natural is still not natural..but if the other party is living their life as it be them….aren;t you being a bit judgmental here against other’s views???how can you discriminate other’s opinions who are against yours?where are our rights?stop being defensive….

  • p!nk

    He was awesome! very inspiring! i loved Sean Penn’s speech too! He mentioned about the picketers outside the Oscars against the movie & against gay rights! I believe in love not hate! Everyone is equal ♥ ♥ ♥

  • Jaguar

    Great speech, we’re well into the new millenium – isn’t it time to start walking the walk with “all men created equal”?

  • WIll go

    you deserve the praise dustin! :-) star network shouldnt censor anything.. its reality. they should know better.

  • p!nk

    #9 – gays & lesbians are not bad words! Fu*ck is a bad word! Why don’t you just censore the word “girl”? Homosexuals are reality, homosexuals are not leaving this world! So get use to it because it’s reality! Love not hate! equality for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥

  • ava

    is it just me? sorry, his speech wasn’t that great. he’s a great writer but i don’t agree with his contradictions. “hey gay and lesbian kids, if nobody else loves you, at least God does”. Oh really? why go on to say “if you were told to feel less value by your CHURCH and GOVERNMENT” and then say God loves you AND the government will give you rights soon…..uh come again???

    anyhoo, they really didn’t need to censor ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. but i’m from Okinawa and used to work for Nielsen TV Ratings, so i can understand why they would censor it actually. it’s not about being against the gay community or being morally right, it’s about politically correct culture and what the actual verbal translation means in certain Asian countries.

  • Heckler

    Thanks for posting ava.

  • SF

    I didn’t think his speech was the greatest. I thought it was sappy and overemotional. And I am surprised every gay and lesbians out there who voted for Obama are so patient with him since I thought you would demand for full federal rights immediately when he came into power. It takes time, it’s a mindset and it is contradictory to religious beliefs however silly I think that is. Too much too soon will kill it too soon too fast. Some day but not now. Censoring is of course wrong. I heard his whole speech though and I am from Malaysia watching it through Star Movies.

  • ava

    I’m all for equal rights.

    In addition, Murdoch needs to make money by nurturing his Asian ties, so of course he has gotta get paid to edit morally correct terms for Asian audiences. Yes, there’s gay and lesbian communities in Asia but it’s irrelevant to why they censored it. they have to be as unbiased as possible.

  • t

    I was really thankful for his speech, and sean penn’s at the end. The censoring is horrible, I feel terrible for the gay people living in malaysia. At least it’s a reminder that even without equal rights here, were still way ahead of where we could be, and of where we were just a decade ago.


    I think it’s more offensive to censor gay and lesbian than it is to hear about gays and lesbians. I’m from southeast Asia but I heard the whole speech. This is a big strike one in my book against STAR.

  • Naty

    He was beyond cute in the Oscars when the actor who play the main character(Sorry I forgot his name) gave his speech he was crying and so happy. I want to see this move so badly, but I will have to wait until it comes out to DVD

  • andrea

    his speech was so heartfelt and wonderful. loved it. its a shame they would censor these types of things that need to be exposed to the rest of the world

  • lo

    ava — the point he was making is that even if your church makes you feel like sh*t for being gay, that’s a FALSE representation of God’s feelings on the matter. Yes, shocking, churches can be wrong! Like that whole not respecting women thing, and then not respecting minority races… gay and lesbians are the next to get the shaft from Big Religion.

    @@@@ — you’re an idiot. I will be glad when your way of thinking has finally devolved and died.

  • christyfranco

    I like his speech, he’s so cute!

  • uglysexy

    dustin is a class act…I’ve corresponded with him and for a genius he is
    a very nice, civil and decent guy
    can’t wait to see what he does with “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test”
    and…hope I’m in it ;p

  • gerard Vandenberg

    They aren’t used to HOMO-SEXUAL-SPEECHES, folks!!

  • luanna

    he’s speech was one of the best oscar’s moment
    i really cried because is so unfair that good people like him
    fell like they don’t belong just because their sexuality
    it’s sad and a shame censor such a beautiful and honest speech

  • jaime

    i see it more as murdoch’s conservative views then asian censoring

  • Ann

    His speech was actually the best one of the night.

  • Asugirl

    YOU know what?! Im SOOOO SICK! of hearing people blame churches for not accepting them…SO what did you expect them too? WHOA..SHOCKER! In the bible it clearly states that homosexuality is wrong! THERE NEVER going to convince them to change over! and Im so sick of GAY AND LESBIAN people trying shove there gay rights down our throats AS IF we have to accept..what because of our times?! SOME people still dont like it, and I guess that goes to show because more than half of there own state CALIFORNIA..VOTED FOR NO GAY MARRIAGE! Some people still have morals and dont want to accept it! Things were actually BETTER in the 90′s when gays were happy how they were and there was no uproar for marriage! There is a HUGE drift between this nation and it sucks! Why dont you guys listen to your buddy ELTON JOHN- leave marriage for the straights and civil unions for gay people! and deal with it! its not normal if it was they would already have rights wouldnt they?!

  • Halli

    That is just awful.

    These countries probably don’t even know what MILK is about, considering their commie censoring countires are too afraid to confront, “the gay”.

    I’m not gay and I am not involved in Gay rights, but his speech was so genuine it brought tears to my eyes.

    Shame on them!

  • angel

    IN BRUGES should have won the best screen play milk was good but not that good in bruges was the best movie of the year, that’s so typical of hollywood.

  • Halli

    Ava…. you are full of it.

    How are the words “gay” and “lesbian” a bias? That’s what you are implying by defending their actions to censor those words becuase they have to remain “unbiased” and in essence censoring this man’s entire speech and the movie MILK.

    God and Church are NOT synonymous.

    There are hundreds of churches that teach many different beliefs. But there is only ONE God. You cannot say that a Church represents Gods feelings because churches are run by PEOPLE and their teachings all vary.

    You are a very ignorant person. Its disgusting.

  • http:/GPost Team Lara Croft

    I think the Asian broadcast should have been more sensitive to such discrimination. The Asian community has known discrimination too so to censor another group for who they are is truly problematic. Loved his speech!

  • mlk

    I saw the telecast through STAR too, they didnt censor it when it was aired live in the morning , obviously, but it was censored for the repeat showing later that night. I thought it was a very moving speech. Americans need to understand not all cultures deem being gay as socially acceptable as they do in the US. We Asians should be so lucky to have the freedoms that you have in the US. I’m not saying that there is a lot of homophobia in Asia, in fact gay culture is pretty much alive over here despite the very conservative backgrounds, religions and race this continent is made of. It’s part of our everyday lives but we just dont address it as freely as we want to, – not because we dont want to offend anyone but its just the politically correct thing to do. So I kinda understood why they decided to censor that term.

  • Lana

    I have nothing against gay people, but for me marriage is between man and women. a guy can have 3 girls if he wants but he can’t married all 3, some thing for ladies, what if now we start demanding governament to make marriage between 3 people legal? have the way you like it, but don’t ask to legalize please.

  • mia

    Im glad they censored it… marriage is holy matrimony between a man and a woman. Its a sacrament.. its sacred. I believe homosexuality is perversion.

  • sasha

    His speech was my favortite. It was so moving.

  • vmars111

    Holy crap, they actually mute out the words “gay” and “lesbian”??? That’s outrageous! I can understand if they’re used in an inappropriate manner, but seriously, that’s just, dare I say it, “ASIAN.”

    Your move, some but not all Asian countries. Your move.

  • vmars111

    Oh, and Mia, have a wonderful life living inside a box, you self-righteous prick. Why not just live out your life and stop trying to limit other’s lives.

    NEWSFLASH: if you think homosexuality is a choice, well your religion is too! Your family CHOSE to bring you up like that. You CHOSE to follow. And you CHOSE to believe that homosexuality is wrong. And you CHOSE to be close-minded.

    DOUBLE NEWSFLASH: You’re in a Hollywood-based site. Hollywood is mostly run by the Jewish and the Gays. DEAL WITH IT.

  • SF

    Was the Stars movie repeat censored? Not that I recall. Because I read the version above, it is the same as I have heard. Or has censoring becoming so fluid that I didn’t even notice it??

  • Mdub

    Yes Mia marriage is so sacred we have people getting married in vegas drunk and getting divorced 2 days later very sacred. Our divorce rate in this nation is insane so don’t tell marriage is so sacred. Having gay people get married doesn’t change your life or effect your life in any way so why do you care so much. People have different beliefs. And don’t say being gay is unnatural because it occurs in nature quite often so really it is natural and according to christians god created nature so really he can’t be that against it. Also what happened to the whole separation of church and state we shouldnt be making laws on the beliefs of a religion.

  • katie

    Thank you Mdub. Yes, Britney Spear’s like 48 hour or whatever it was marriage was SO sacred. Brings a tear to my eye.

  • ploc

    Asian people look unnatural that’s why they are mean.

  • slambang

    It’s sickening that we still have this type of censorship in the world. Black’s speech was undoubtedly the best of the night.

    Jannie Poon – LOL!

  • marie

    It’s posible to believe in the sanctaty (sp) of marriage and not be a bigot. Besides, they still have civil unions, so it’s not like they can’t be “married”.

  • Macedon

    I’m from the Philippines and thankfully we had 2 separate broadcasts. The local network that showed it live didn’t censor anything – even the gay kisses from Milk. I was very proud of that. I knew that Star Movies would be quite conservative, so I expected that the gay kisses would be cut out. What I didn’t expect was that even the speech would be censored. That’s just sad.

    The Philippines is FAR, FAR ahead of many Asian countries when it comes to gay acceptance. But we still have a long way to go to reach Denmark and the Netherlands.

    The reality is that we are all equal, regardless of opinion. And no law or bigotry can ultimately change that.

    ASUGirl (I’m guessing Arizona State University?), you’re a hilarious redneck who probably can’t even find the Bible verse to defend your argument – because it doesn’t exist. And if you quote Sodom and Gomorrah, you’ll also be justifying killing disobedient wives – that’s in the BIble too. It would be interesting to see you live that out with your husband one day. The Bible was never meant to be taken literally.

    And for those of you who use your personal morality standards to determine other people’s happiness, well, your happiness will also be subject to other people’s morality. And you’ll be surprised at how violently different other people’s morality can be from your own. They’ll even KILL you for it. Your textbook answer to what is right and wrong will make you judge yourselves very harshly.

    Judge and you will be judged. There are people on this Earth who think that being a white capitalist is immoral and reason for death. You should meet them one day.

  • paul


  • anne

    Thailand and the Philippines are the most liberal in Southeast Asia in terms of attitudes towards homosexuals. But I was expecting better from Star TV, since it emanates from Hong Kong- a city that (even if it’s part of the People’s Republic of China now) has freedom of the press, the right to protest. They were probably worried about upsetting their more conservative audiences ( i.e. Malaysia)


  • LolaSvelt

    Best speech of the night, what a load of idiots for censoring the speech.

    I’m guessing they censored Sean Penn saying “You commie homo-loving son-of-guns!”, too.

  • Frida

    #12 YOU make me sick!