This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Provincetown, Mass., for the first time. The purpose of the visit was to screen the film "Out to Win", a documentary featuring the coming out stories of pioneers including; Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Billy Bean and Jason Collins. The film was part of the Provincetown International Film Festival.
Many claim that "P'town" is the gayest place on earth, so when my "little brother" Conner Mertens suggested the road trip I gladly obliged. Provincetown has a old school feel to it that reminded me of Amity Island from the movie Jaws, with a few more rainbow flags.
After a day of some tanning, exploring the town and great company we were able to meet up with director Malcolm Ingram at a filmmaker brunch. He warned me that I would cry during the movie, and I was really looking forward to finally seeing what I had heard so much about.
The film blew me away. Listening to so many leaders share their struggles was extremely powerful. I had never heard of British soccer star Justin Fashanu and how him being outed led to his suicide. Listening to Dave Kopay talk about how his lover was killed in Vietnam was gut-wrenching. The plights of Billie Jean and Martina with sponsorships in the early 1980s were mind-boggling. My eyes were wide and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
With a few minutes left I thought I was making it through with more curiosity then emotion, but then the story of Conner and Chandler Whitney hit the screen. Chandler openly discussed a near suicide attempt and I completely lost control. I had heard the story before, but something hit me really hard. I believe it was the dam breaking after a powerful 90 minutes.
Following an audience Q&A I was able to collect myself and approach Malcolm. I gave him a hug and thanked him for the film. I told him that it would positively change peoples lives and that he needed to find a way for closeted kids to see this film.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with Malcolm for the remainder of the day and discussing various topics within the LGBT sports movement. It's amazing the time and passion that a filmmaker puts into their work and how dedicated they become to the subject.
The film has only screened in a few cities and the hope is a wider release. San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are all on the schedule in the coming months. If you are a part of the LGBT sports movement, make it a point to catch this film. It will open your eyes and give you a new appreciation to the struggles so many face. We all can relate in someway to how the features felt.
If you read this and are still closeted, make it a point to catch this film. The change and acceptance that has occurred from Billie Jean King's coming out to Jason Collins is remarkable. It will help you understand that their is an entire community their to support and love you. I'm proud to be a small part.