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'From a very young age, I knew I was the same as a murderer or rapist'

Watch Dustin Lance Black’s incredible speech at UCD.

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK gave an incredibly moving speech to UCD’s Law Society about gay rights this week.

The activist and Oscar-winning screenwriter spoke about growing up as a member of the Mormon Church in Texas, when being gay was still illegal in the US.

Black told students the Mormon Church “makes the Catholic church seem really open-minded”, noting he was taught from a young age that being gay was akin to being a murderer.

Growing up in that church I heard from a very, very early age that homosexuality was sin next to the crime of murder. So from the age of 3, 4, 5, 6, – when I was just a little kid, three foot tall – I knew that I was right down there with all the sinners and the murderers and the rapists. It was very scary.

During the moving speech, Black spoke of the fear he felt about coming out to his family.

“I knew that I was a sinner. I knew that I was a criminal,” he said.

dustin lb Source: Screengrab/YouTube

Black said he and his mother “talked endlessly” about everything.

One night when he was home from college for Christmas, he said his mother started to complain about the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rule in the US military being “too inclusive”.

Black said he prayed, in vain, for him not to cry in front of her because she would then know the truth about his sexuality.

Before I knew it that first tear had hit my cheek and that room went silent and I looked up into her eyes – and this is a good Southern Mormon mom, I mean she knew. She knew.

I didn’t have to say anything. But, loud and clear, what I heard in that silence was that it wasn’t OK. That she was afraid for her son. What had she done wrong to break her precious boy and how could she fix this horrible problem? That’s what that silence said.

Black went on to tell the audience of the surprising way his mother reacted when she met his college friends, many of whom were gay.

Source: UCD - University College Dublin/YouTube

Black, who is in a relationship with British Olympic diver Tom Daley, said the upcoming vote on marriage equality in Ireland “scares” him as “this isn’t a right that should be put up for a vote”.

“This is a fundamental right that is bigger than any one belief system, bigger than any one religion. It is a fundamental right of being a human being able to marry the person that you love.”

He said Ireland is “on the cusp of change” and encouraged people to make sure they get out and vote on 22 May.

“Go out and tell your stories,” he said.

Black has been awarded honorary life membership of UCD Law Society.

Poll: How do you intend to vote in the same-sex marriage referendum?

Read: Where is same-sex marriage legal?

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Órla Ryan

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