Screening as a part of the inaugural Fragments Festival in London, French filmmaker Denis Parrot’s documentary Out presents a simple, poignant montage of videos and audio clips sourced from the internet in which nineteen young people share their experiences of coming out as LGBTQ, navigating their identity, relationships, and the world around them. At times difficult to watch, Out takes a candid view of making yourself known to the world, along with both the joyful and challenging consequences this can have.
Parrot’s documentary begins with an honest, un-embellished explanation of his incentive: “when I was young, there was no internet.” For younger members of the LGBT community, growing up with access to the web is often the key to self-discovery; a means to learn the language that identifies the confusing and often distressing feelings brewing in our heads. Out recognises the good that the internet can and does do in rendering isolated individuals visible to each other, forming connections across the most repressive boundaries. We begin with Campbell in Perth, Australia, sitting down to tell his mother and younger brother that he is gay. It is important that the film begins on a positive note, as Campbell’s mother responds in the jubilant, loving manner that every child deserves. However, not every reaction is so encouraging. These videos document the reality of families who are confused, unaccepting, and in one instance, violent. Nevertheless, the tenacious young participants of Out use their experiences to reach out to others like them with messages of hope, love, and solidarity.
Minimalist in style and editing, Parrot’s choice to present his footage without comment allows the voices of their subjects to speak for themselves – staking a claim in their own narrative. This relative lack of intervention throughout enables you to immerse yourself uninhibited in each story, however briefly they feature. The diversity of the young people involved, across sexualities, genders, ethnicities and cultures, provides an imperative insight into varying family dynamics and attitudes towards coming out across the world. The narrative is regrettably a little light on the experiences of women – most notably through the absence of trans women speakers. At only a little over an hour long, there is certainly room in Out for more developed, varied stories of transgender identity, as well as illuminating gay and lesbian youth.
Out is a film that brings together many of the emotional highs and lows LGBTQ people face in not just coming to terms with their identities, but how they choose to express this to others. The self-taped coming out video becomes an artefact of a crucial moment in a person’s declaration of identity, which is a hugely powerful thing. These online videos then often find themselves viewed by kids on the other side of the world, all with the same desperate quest for self-recognition. Out ends with a literal sigh of relief – a comforting reminder that there will always be a community waiting with open arms.
by Megan Wilson
Meg (she/her) is a Mancunian film studies graduate with an MA in gender, sexuality and culture, now working in secondary education in London. When not wrangling her cats or playing football, she dreams of being a professor and writing endless books on lesbian cinema just because she can. Her favourite films include Carol, Moonlight, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and she’ll always have a soft spot for Matilda. Find her on Twitter.