Out in the Open (Breaking Glass Pictures, NR)

outintheopen 75The film’s purpose, it seems, is to give a lot of happy, successful gay people a chance to appear on camera, talk about being gay, and act as inspiration to those in need of some positive vibes.

 

Matthew Smith wants people to feel good about themselves, and he’s made an upbeat, charming documentary intended to help gay people do just that. Out in the Open starts as a mockumentary, with a high-school-industrial-type talking head warning about the dangers homosexuals pose to society (among other things, apparently they want to give AIDS to everyone, a task best accomplished by dumping buckets of confetti on unsuspecting office workers). A voiceover offers some clues to help figure out if you might be one. Guys: Do you take pride in your appearance? Ladies: Do you imagine anything other than a life spent in loving servitude to your husband? If so, be afraid—be very afraid.

It’s a nice opening, which then takes us into the home of “two handsome fellows’’—Smith and his boyfriend Solly Hemus—both as charming and cute as can be. The stentorian voiceover returns occasionally as punctuation, but from this point onward, the film becomes more of a traditional documentary whose purpose is to give a lot of happy, successful gay people a chance to appear on camera, talk about being gay, and act as inspiration to those in need of some positive vibes—young people in particular, who may be living in someplace much less gay-friendly than Smith’s current home of Burbank, Calif.

You couldn’t find a friendlier bunch of people—in fact, the whole film feels a bit like a visit to a grownup version of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, where everyone is gentle and good looking and ever-so-willing to share personal information with the camera. Carson Kressley, host of Queer Eye, tries to guess the meaning of all the letters offered up as labels for his identity—GBSAQLTF—before declaring that he’s “a big fat G” and “as G as you can be.” Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis recalls telling his mother that his roommate was actually his lover, and finding out that she already knew. Patrick Burke, a straight ally and scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, speaks about the responsibility of straight people to show their support for gay people because straights, after all, are the majority.

OK, so it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. Stories of harassment and worse are also shared, but since everyone speaking is now a successful adult, the tone is much more “it gets better” than “it sucks to be me.” Out in the Open is not really an issues film, and the mockumentary device gets old pretty quickly, but it’s hard to get too upset at a film that provides pleasant, positive role models discussing how they are successfully navigating life, with supportive comments from friends and family. Extras on the DVD include a commentary track with the director and several others involved with the film, several extended interviews, outtakes and bloopers, and a photo gallery. | Sarah Boslaugh

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