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Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: Outrage

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My name is Larry Craig, and I am a gay American. | Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Forget Social Security, closeted homosexuality in Washington D.C. is the true third rail of American politics, and provocateur extraordinaire Kirby Dick firmly places his foot on it in his bracingly honest documentary, Outrage. The film covers in meticulous detail the sad truth that virtually all of the mainstream media knows but would rather ignore: there are many politicians and media personalities who lead double lives. Dick's film goes where none before it have dared: he puts names and sources on the record to startling, often tragic effect.

However, to reduce Dick's film to a mere exercise in outing -- as some surely will -- would be unfair. His intent is far more specific: to expose the hypocrisy of those -- to be fair -- mostly Republican individuals who legislate against gay issues from the relative safety of the closet. And, as stated above, Dick doesn't hold back: Charlie Crist, governor of Florida, is gay; Ken Mehlman, former RNC Chairman, is gay; David Dreier, congressman from California's 26th district, is gay; Shepard Smith, anchor on Fox News, is gay. And the list goes on.

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My name is Barney Frank, and I am also a gay American. What's the big deal? | Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Conservatives will surely label the film as an attack piece meant to embarrass Republicans. Kirby is a liberal man, so I don't doubt that there is at least some truth to that statement. What that criticism misses, though, is the kernel that lies at the center of Dick's film: living in the closet prevents you from leading an honest life. And when you go out and attack those gays who don't live in the closet -- by trying to prevent them from getting married, or adopting, or being protected from job discrimination -- that secrecy gets perverted into malevolence.

The tragic component to all this, of course, is that these closeted politicians are damaging themselves and their families as well. Witness the case of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. He was a fast-rising star in Democratic circles until forced to resign after a clandestine gay affair with a staffer was revealed. Dick's film replays the press conference where McGreevey comes out with his wife by his side. Later interviews reveal the damage that still lingers with both. He is wracked with regret; she believes her entire life with him was a lie.

Is that any way to live? It apparently is to former Idaho Senator Larry Craig. He was caught about as red-handed as you can -- soliciting sex in a men's airport bathroom. Further, the Idaho Statesman found numerous men willing to go on the record and say that they have had sex with Senator Craig. In Dick's film, one even provides details of the inside of Craig's house! And yet Craig clinged to his denials and continued to vote against virtually every piece of gay-related legislation that passed through Congress. It would be sad were it not so cruel.

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A recent poll found that for the first time a plurality of Americans believe that gay Americans should be allowed to enter into the same compact of civil laws to which millions of heterosexual Americans are already allowed. Or, to put it another way, we are starting to believe it's okay if gay people get married. As this acceptance continues to deepen within our culture, it is to be hoped that a related phenomena will occur on the issue of coming out of the closet. To any who care about any of these issues, Outrage is a must-see documentary.

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Outrage opens tomorrow at the Sunset 5.

My interview with Kirby Dick will run tomorrow in this same space.