Oscar-winning gay ex-Mormon has praise and criticism for the LDS Church

Dustin Lance Black and his mother are the subjects of the HBO documentary “Mama’s Boy.”

(ABC) Screenwriter and director Dustin Lance Black, showrunner of the recent miniseries "Under the Banner of Heaven" and Oscar-winning screenwriter of the biographical drama "Milk," is the subject of a new documentary, "Mama's Boy," airing on HBO channels and streaming on HBO Max starting Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints many years ago, and he’s not reluctant to criticize the faith. Nor does he hesitate to praise it in the new HBO documentary “Mama’s Boy.”

Here are six takeaways from The Salt Lake Tribune’s interview with Black, who won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for “Milk,” and who — along with his strong-willed mother — is the subject of the documentary.

He certainly doesn’t sound anti-Mormon • “I am who I am because I was raised Mormon,” he told The Tribune. “My sense that family comes first is something I learned from Mormonism. Granted, I might define family a little more broadly than many Mormons do in Utah these days, but I still think it comes first. My son and my husband are the most important things in my life.” (Black married British Olympic diver Tom Daley in 2017; their son, Robert Ray Black-Daley, was born in 2018.)

He’s grateful to the church for its support when his biological father abandoned the family • “There was a very good chance” he and his two brothers “would have been put in foster care had the church not started slipping cash into our mailbox,” Black said. “And it was done in quiet so that my mom could maintain her dignity.”

He blames church leaders in Texas for what happened next • Local church leaders “set up” a marriage between Anne and his first stepfather, but blamed his mother when the stepfather turned violent. Black said church leaders told Anne not to go to the police, and suggested it was her responsibility “if he’s having to resort to this sort of violence” because “there’s something in the home that’s not right for your priesthood holder.” Black told The Tribune, “I do not understand why my mom had to be treated the way she was treated just because she was a woman in the faith.”

He’s critical of the church’s stand on members of the LGBTQ+ community • “I do not understand why I was told for so long that I was a sinner whose sin was akin to murder by a prophet of the Mormon faith,” Black said. “That’s really an incredibly harsh thing to tell a young person who’s experiencing love for the first time. ... Why live?”

He says he has let go of any lingering anger or bitterness • “It’s eating you alive,” he said. “And I don’t want to be eaten alive ... by the memories of some of the things that were said and done to me by members of the Mormon faith.”

He says he is hopeful about the future • He even hopes LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson will watch “Mama’s Boy.” “And maybe there’ll be a revelation that we are to equally honor a mother in heaven — sooner rather than later,” Black said with a smile. “Maybe it’s time for some revelation to bring the church into the 21st century and to be better to all of the faithful.”

“Mama’s Boy” repeats several times on HBO channels and is streaming on HBO Max.