The Out List HBO Documentary Premieres this Week
I will admit that since taking the job as editor at Hotspots I've gotten to do some pretty cool things. Gay Pride celebrations around the state, Gay Days in Orlando, musicals in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but last week I got to top pretty much everything I've had the chance to do.
I was invited, along with my boyfriend (photographer) Alan to the New York City premiere of HBO's new documentary "The Out List," which the studio was showing at a red carpet affair at their headquarters. We had a chance to rub shoulders with many of the film's subjects, including former NFL star Wade Davis, Drag sensation Lady Bunny, trans activist Janet Mock, NYC teacher Wazina Zondon, as well as many of the film's producers and HBO executives.
The movie is the sixth in "the list series" by director/producer/photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. After completing three films for "The Black List" and two of "The Latino List," a chance encounter with Ellen Degeneres backstage at a fashion show gave Greenfield-Sanders the idea to continue his project and to focus on the LGBT Community. With the help of Sam McConnell, who did the interviews, Greenfield-Sanders ended up with a beautiful tapestry representing all facets of our community. "The Out List" is a powerful film, chock-full of some of the most recognizable names in the LGBT family, and some people who you have probably never heard of, but who are doing all that they can to fight for equality and to make life better for our "family."
Besides Ellen Degeneres, whose interview is funny and opens the film, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Cynthia Nixon, Dustin Lance Black, and Wanda Sykes round out Hollywood's A Listers in the documentary. NPH talks about his family and about having been pushed to make a statement about his sexuality thanks to Perez Hilton, the blogger who made it his mission to "out" the star. Nixon talks about her bisexuality and falling in love with her partner. Black talks about gaining his mother's acceptance and support, while Sykes uses her comedy to explain what the coming out process was like for her and what it's like raising a family.
Financial guru Suze Orman makes powerful points about LGBT equality, or lack thereof, when she points out the discriminatory inheritance laws that LGBT American's face when a partner or spouse dies. Her statements were even more powerful at the premiere because Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case before the Supreme Court, was in the audience.
Playwright and activist Larry Kramer spoke about losing almost every single one of his friends to HIV/AIDS and helping to found Act Up. He talks about the power of anger and how, if used correctly, it can be wielded as a tool to implement change.
The film is far from lighthearted, but it does have many comic moments. Drag superstar Lady Bunny, who was also on hand for the premiere, talks about her meager beginnings with the fabulous RuPaul, and she gives what, in my opinion is the most powerful line in the film. She credits the drag queens and "sissys" for many of the changes we have seen in public opinion and the LGBT movement. She says that while others were "gay one day a year" [at Gay Pride] the drag queens and butch lesbians were never able to be in the closet and were like "here's a brick in your fucking face." She stole the show.
"The Out List" airs on HBO this Thursday June 27 at 9 p.m., but since it's HBO we are taking about, it will surely be shown over and over again. Look for it on demand as well. This documentary, with its ability to reach a mainstream audience, thanks to HBO, will continue to help the LGBT community demand equality. Anytime we have the attention of the nation, we must do all we can to make them understand that "We're here and we're queer," and we aren't going anywhere, especially back into anyone's closet.