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Why equality is still not a reality.

Question: What is the most pressing issue facing the gay community?

David Hauslaib: I think it comes down to equality, which is I think such a silly thing to say in 2008. But I think it comes down to sort of civil rights – the right to get married; the right to file your taxes together; hospital visitation rights. And I think beyond that is equality including in the military with “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which always seems to be a hot button issue that pops up once a year or so; but especially now with the presidential debate and candidates taking a side on the issue. But I think it comes down to basic civil rights.

Question: Why does the community remain marginalized?

David Hauslaib: Because I think it remains – even among people who claim to support gay rights – I think it remains a taboo subject. In that while . . . If we’re saying that the majority of America has no problem with gay people, I think there’s an asterisk to that position – no problem with gay people so long as you’re not my son; so long as you’re not my sister. And I think the idea of introducing that into one’s personal life, whether people own up to it or not, remains an issue. I think it’s very easy from the bubble of New York or LA to say, you know, this should be a non-issue. But there are so many opinions and views in between those coasts that don’t necessarily agree with that. And I think it’s very clear that evangelical and very conservative religious groups maintain quite a bit of power in this country because there are obviously . . . You know it’s very clear that candidates are leaning one way or the other when it comes to their approach of them. And their viewpoints have to be taken very seriously on the political spectrum, and it’s there that these things are going to change.

Question: How can people’s opinions towards sexuality be changed?

David Hauslaib: I have a very . . . I have a . . . I have a personal issue with the idea that some people can “tolerate” homosexuality. I do not “tolerate” women. I do not “tolerate” Black or Asian people. I embrace them as I would anyone else. And so I think right now we’re sending this message of tolerance. And I think it is a stepping stone toward embracing; or even so much so that it’s a non issue. I think right now the goal needs to be to promote this as a normalized sort of behavior. And I think that if we’re taking these sort of Band-Aid or sideways approaches to get to our final result, we’re going to end up with something that’s still not viewed very well. So I think the message we need to be pitching is this sort of normalized behavior. Gay people are just like straight people; they just sleep with the same sex. That’s really all it comes down to. I think it’s easy for me to say that’s such a simple message – not only because I live in a very urban area, but I’m a gay man. You know on the same token, I don’t think it’s very easy for, you know, other folks in more conservative parts of the country to accept that message.

What is Hollywood’s role in changing public opinion?

David Hauslaib: You know I’m a little bit torn there because Hollywood shouldn’t necessarily be a platform for any message; but then I also believe it’s foolish to imagine that it doesn’t. You know from the very basics of cutting out smoking from movies and what that did to views toward people who smoke, I think we’re moving beyond, I like to think, the token gay character in movies and TV shows. But I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but I think that’s important to show that even in mainstream movies that have gay and lesbian characters who are normalized. They’re not the token gay character. They are another character in that movie. And I like the idea of sort of plot lines within TV and film that deal with gay men and women, but don’t necessarily focus on that as a sole issue. Because then I think it sort of creates a caricature of what this is supposed to be. So I do think to an extent Hollywood does hold some responsibility. But you know homophobia exists in that industry like any other. While your agent or your publicist can be gay, don’t expect to sign onto a movie as an open gay person and expect a big paycheck.

Question: Who is responsible for the continued secrecy about queer people in Hollywood?

David Hauslaib: I think both parties are going to point fingers. It’s very easy for me as a moviegoer to say Hollywood the institution needs to change their ways. But I also think if they put an openly gay character in a major motion picture, I don’t think it would perform as well at the box office. So I think we do need to take small steps to reach that end all goal. It’s not going to happen overnight, and I think it would be foolish to assume so. But I think the American public does still have this cringe mentality when it comes to the idea of gay men and women playing leading roles, or roles where they aren’t the gay character; all the way to Hollywood that is fearful of even opening up that possibility because the investment is so large and no studio wants to make that bet.

Recorded on: Jan 23 2008