Jennifer Brook, Phil Donahue, Beatrice Alda, and Marlo Thomas at the screening of "Out Late" in Sag Harbor. Photos by Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
- Sag Harbor residents Beatrice Alda
and Jennifer Brooke
screened their documentary film "Out Late" to a packed house at the Bay Street Theatre
in Sag Harbor on Saturday night with proceeds going to benefit Service and Advocacy for Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE-LI) and Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY). Alan Alda
, Arlene Alda
, Phil Donahue
, and Marlo Thomas
were in attendance to support the Forever Films, Inc. event, which raised money for Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) organizations.
Brooke said that her film company, Forever Films, Inc., which she runs with Alda, had cut a deal with an unnamed cable network to premiere "Out Late" on the small screen. Brooke and Alda are continuing to show the piece at film festivals as well, including those in Montreal and Egypt.
"Out Late" explores the lives of six people who closeted their sexuality or gender preferences until much later in life.
The first subject featured, Elaine, is introduced as a spunky 82-year-old who came out as a lesbian at age 79 after finding "The L Word" on Showtime
. Elaine, identified as straight for much of her life, knew she had feelings for women since she was a girl, and once viewed the straight lifestyle as a duty to be performed, but wouldn't take back getting married and having children. Now, she is an active member of the lesbian community and confident in her identity.
Phil Donahue and Alan Alda at the screening.
Like Elaine, the other subjects in the film were relieved to finally come out, explaining the pain of staying closeted and the fear of being discovered. The film demonstrates the way that societal norms repress individual sexual expression and investigates the connections among religion, politics, age, gender, and sexuality.
"Out Late" could certainly be considered a political act, given the current fight over gay and lesbian marriage rights, exemplified most recently in Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment that limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman, which passed by a narrow margin on Nov. 4. The film discusses a similar amendment in Kansas, and how the issue caused another subject, Cathy, to come out as a GLBT political activist.
After the film, there was a Question & Answer session with Alda and Brooke, moderated by Bonnie Grice
of WLIU 88.3 FM. During the Q&A the audience expressed its enthusiasm for the film and for GLBT rights.
For some, "Out Late" was a call to action. "In light of the recent marriage ban in California," asked one audience member, "what can we do here in Sag Harbor to make sure a marriage amendment doesn't pass in New York?" In response, Brooke suggested that those present continue to express their opinions and organize. "We made a film," Brooke said. "I think the film really showcased how GLBT seniors struggle," Robert Vitelli
, SAGE-LI Director of Development, said.
As a piece of activism, the film works on both an abstract and practical level, raising not only awareness but also money that will benefit Service and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (SAGE-LI) and Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY). "For that generation it was not O.K. to come out." LIGALY and SAGE-LI provide education programs as well as a support network for GLBT youth and seniors, respectively.