REVIEW: FILM: Coming Out

Coming Out

Dryades Films/Upside Films

Released to coincide with National Coming Out Day ( 11 October ) the film Coming Out follows a very simple but modern formula – video messages and conversations.

In its 64 minutes it allows people of all nationalities and sexual orientations to tell us their stories, but more poignantly, to tell their parents. Mostly the very short sessions are directed at mothers – some present and some on a video or phone link.

The reactions are varied – some immediate acceptance, some puzzled confusion, some outright disturbing hatred and in one case physical violence on camera .

These are reactions well known to our LGBTQ+ communities, but nonetheless still uplifting or frighteningly disturbing depending on the outcome.

What is clear in Denis Parrot’s touchingly intimate film is we have come a long way and we have also got nowhere.

There are some very familiar attitudes and viewpoints which the film doesn’t comment on – it just lets us see both sides, though obviously its meant to be both supportive and enlightening.

So we are exposed to the popular idea of “ it’s your choice “ as if being gay was as simple as how we decide what shoes to wear or what meal to eat. Sometimes the parental version of this is meant to be sympathetic but more often than not what the film shows is the deep chasm of misunderstanding that still exists for people wanting to be honest about their sexuality.

Not surprisingly we also often get the mother’s smiling reaction of “ I’ve  known all along “ and “ why didn’t you tell me before ? “ The answers are inevitably that the young people featured – some of them as young as 12- were frightened of rejection and hatred.

Sadly the film also shows the terrible reactions that coming out can produce . And we get it  full on in this piece. There’s the “God will punish you “ syndrome and even in one terrifying and awful scene physical violence from a clearly hate-filled mother. “ You disgusting piece of shit “ says the mother to the very brave and nervous Daniel. His mother’s analysis “ God didn’t create anyone that way… to give me such a horrible disgusting child “.

But that’s one of only a small number of rejections in the film. There are also worrying examples of self- loathing and thoughts of suicide for those of us who can’t or don’t want to accept our sexuality.

But the overwhelming mood of the film is of the acceptance which we all seek. As  one participant tell us – “coming out at 14 or 50 is an incredibly hard thing to do, but it shouldn’t be “ As another puts it “ we come out so people like us know they are not alone. “

So great praise all round for the gays, lesbians and trans people featured for taking that bold step – and would that everyone in every country felt able to do so .

Coming Out is made by Dryades Films and Upside Films and distributed by Peccadillo Pictures. It’s available via Amazon and on the BFI player.

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