Queer On Demand: Outrage | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Queer On Demand: Outrage

Posted By on October 13, 2009, 6:08 AM

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Not sure what happened, but I haven't noticed that Outrage aired over the past week on my TV. Now I see that the schedule provides air dates throughout the coming weeks -- but if that somehow doesn't work out in this market, or if you just don't want to wait, it's also available on Comcast On Demand. Here are the details: 

Now Available: Kirby Dick's timely documentary Outrage.   ---

Synopsis: America's halls of power are full of gay politicians and operatives who lead double lives in order to maintain positions of power. But their comfy, hypocritical closets get blown wide open when they end up betraying LGBT interests. 

Rating: Five (out of five) outrageous hankies.

How to Navigate: Select > On Demand | Premium Channels | HBO On Demand | HBO Documentaries | Feature Films | Outrage

Remarks: The practice of outing closeted politicians in the media was controversial in the '80s, and remains so today. But, when those politicians systematically vote against legal equality for gay and lesbian Americans -- all the while enjoying the company of real gays on the down-low -- the issue becomes more clear-cut: Out those bastards!

To out only those who are powerful hypocrites seems a reasonable position to take, and Outrage makes a good case for it: As the film notes in its opening credits, the closet is not just a bad situation for us rank-and-file gays and lesbians, but also for those in power:

"There exists a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy to keep gay and lesbian politicians as closeted as possible. This conspiracy is so powerful the media will not cover it, even though it profoundly harms many Americans.

"This film is about politicians who live in the closet, those who have escaped it, and the people who work to end its tyranny."

Framing Dick's exhaustive exploration of the subject is the odd case of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, caught toe-tapping in an airport restroom. Craig's famous "I am not gay" speech was followed by a staged press op featuring Craig seated reassuringly next to wife Susanne. After his prepared statement, Susanne offered a loyal, if unconvincing, testimony of Craig's heterosexuality.

Suzanne was great, really -- but the spectacle of a wife willing to go that far to protect her husband's heterosexual veneer led to what is perhaps the film's finest quote, in the words of Washington, D.C., Councilman David Catania: 

"How do you stand next to your husband after he's been in a stall? … I'd have headed to a shower for a Silkwood scrubdown, or certainly to an STD clinic. I wouldn't be at the Whistle Stop Café 'standing by' him. Is she insane?"   

Outrage is full of unexpected gems like this, and lots of surprises. The list of politicians discussed is extensive -- notably including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist -- but perhaps the most surprising aspect are Dick's interviews with former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, forced out of the closet after news of his extramarital affair with a male political advisor went public. 

McGreevey managed a somewhat more graceful exit than Craig (McGreevey's wife-side exit speech included the sentence "I am a gay American") -- but, in Outrage, the former governor is much more sympathetic than expected. In these confessional interviews, he comes across as one who has learned a lesson, undergone therapy and now genuinely wants to help others avoid making his mistakes. 

Outrage is a fascinating film with a take-home message for closeted gay and lesbian politicians: If you wish to remain in the closet, you'd do well to vote in the best interests of the people you're partying and sleeping with.

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