Entertainment

OUT In America: In Their Own Words - A Moving, Diverse Portrait Of LGBT Americans

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Jun 5, 2011
OUT In America: In Their Own Words - A Moving, Diverse Portrait Of LGBT Americans

Boasting the longest title in television history, "Out in America: In Their Own Words - A Moving, Diverse Portrait of LGBT Americans" is a one-hour PBS special featuring a collection of interviews and footage from not only well-known LGBT figures, but everyday LGBT folk as well. It proposes to show LGBT Americans in a realistic and all-encompassing light at a time when the acceptance of our group is becoming wider, while there is a lot of prejudice to still work through.

Airing June 8th as part of National Gay & Lesbian Pride Month, "Out in America" was created by Emmy award-winning directory Andrew Goldberg ("Jerusalem: Center of the World") to create a portrait of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people that doesn't fall into the stereotypical portrayals so often seen on network television and in the movies.

Some of the more popular interviewees are Bravo host Andy Cohen, "Tales of the City" author Armistead Maupin, Dr. Patricia Hawkins (renowned psychologist who works with HIV patients), newly out country star Chely Wright, as well as PJ Serrano, Puerto Rico's first openly gay and HIV positive political candidate, a transgendered police lieutenant, an adorable older lesbian couple, and an aging gay interracial couple. All of the participants open up about their experiences of coming out, dealing with bigotry and hatred, how they earned and expected respect, what they feel about marriage, and sometimes... just relaying silly little love stories.

The film, however, is daunting as it covers a myriad of topics from being gay in the military to the events at Stonewall to getting married after waiting over forty years to dealing with the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the 80's. While every story is unique and interesting, "Out in America" suffers from, quite simply, not being long enough. These are stories that beg to be told Ken Burns' style with an eight-night event that can cover all topics that are intrinsic to the LGBT life.

While every story is unique and interesting, "Out in America" suffers from, quite simply, not being long enough.

That said, as an overview for straight viewers, it gives a nice glimpse into the normalcy of most LGBT relationships as well as the wants and desires of gay and lesbian Americans. But because of the sound bite nature of the special, these moments could raise more questions than they answer. And that's too bad.

Consistently entertaining, "Out in America" is still a nice little hour of well-put together television. But for a show whose title boasts "A Moving, Diverse Portrait of LGBT Americans" it could stand to be expanded to make it even more diverse and more in-depth.... Just like most LGBT Americans.

As an overview though, it's still pretty fascinating. And when it's not delving into homophobia or the AIDS crisis, it's actually pretty delightful.

Premieres June 8, 2011 at 8pm ET/PT on PBS. (Check your local listings)

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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