Director to politicians: Come out, come out, wherever you are.
By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
There is an undercurrent of anger coursing through Outrage, but the anger is unusually restrained and eloquent. In targeting supposedly gay, closeted politicians with a record of anti-gay legislation, director Kirby Dick opts for a measured tone instead of Michael Moore-style showboating.
Dick, whose previous films have taken on the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) and sexual abuse within the Catholic Church (the Oscar-nominated Twist of Faith), never resorts to shouting in the viewer's face to make his point. But there is no missing his seething frustration at the elected officials he considers to be hypocrites.
Among them: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a supporter of the state's ban on gay adoption. Outrage accuses Crist of being in the closet, citing as evidence articles written by the Broward New Times' Bob Norman, which quoted men who claimed to have had affairs with Crist. The movie also offers a tantalizing comment from one of Crist's former girlfriends: ''I think I should just keep my mouth shut,'' she says. ``Call me in 10 years, and I'll tell you a story.''
Also in Outrage's cross hairs is former Idaho Sen. Larry E. Craig, who resigned after being busted for sexual solicitation in a Minnesota airport bathroom but continues to insist he is 100 percent heterosexual.
What angers Dick about these and other politicos is not the fact that they are allegedly closeted but that they have repeatedly supported bans of gay marriage, gay adoption and other measures infringing on the rights of homosexuals.
Using interviews with openly gay public figures (including former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts), reporters and bloggers (Andrew Sullivan, Michelangelo Signorile) and activists (playwright Larry Kramer), Outrage explores the trauma that often accompanies the coming-out process and traces the latter-day gay-rights movement from its roots in the Reagan/AIDS era of the 1980s.
But although the film takes a compassionate view toward the stigma of the closet, it has zero tolerance for those who refuse to come out for the sake of political gain.
Outrage also takes aim at a supposed ''conspiracy'' within the media to protect closeted politicians, asking why the private lives of elected officials rumored to be gay aren't inspected as thoroughly as, say, those of President Bill Clinton or Gary Hart.
But no one thinks that, for example, the executives at CNN who removed Bill Maher's outing of a well-known Washington, D.C., politician during a rerun of Larry King Live (an omission that Outrage shows us) were in cahoots with the editors of the National Public Radio website who this week deleted two politicians' names from a review of Outrage (leading its author, Nathan Lee, to remove his byline).
Instead of a nefarious plot, such instances of censorship were probably just the result of nerves. Even in the 21st century, public discussions of homosexuality still make a lot of people awfully jittery. With passion and candor, Outrage argues that everyone needs to just get over it.
With: James McGreevey, Michael Rogers, Barney Frank, Michelangelo Signorile, Bob Norman, Andrew Sullivan, Larry Kramer.
Director: Kirby Dick.
Producer: Amy Ziering.
A Magnolia Pictures release. Running time: 90 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. In Broward only: Gateway.
Larry Kramer in Outrage. Photo: Magnolia Pictures.