“Out To Win”
The documentary Out To Win, from Small Town Gay Bar’s Malcolm Ingram, is premièring next month at SXSW in Texas next month, but ahead of that a teaser trailer for the LGBT-themed doc has arrived, which you can take a look at below.
“Out to Win” is a documentary film that serves as an overview and examination of lives and careers of aspiring and professional gay and lesbian athletes from all over the world. Chronicling the present, framed within a historical context of those that came before, this film highlights the experiences of athletes who have fought and struggled, both in and out of the closet, to represent the LGBT community and their true selves. This film is told through the voices of pioneers, present day heroes, tomorrow’s superstars and the people who’ve helped them succeed. Featuring interviews with trailblazers including Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, Brittney Griner and more.’
Here are some other reviews:
Out To Win (BFI Flare Review)
“Out To Win is an interesting and intimate documentary of LGBT sporting history over the past 40 years.
Beginning as a retrospective, Out To Win looks at how attitudes and conceptions of gay sports stars has changed since 1975 when David Kopay came out as the first professional gay NFL player. Featuring interviews with several now-retired athletes including Kopay, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, all of whom have lived through scandal and prejudice and had their careers damaged as a result of their sexuality being made public.
In the telling of their now historical comings-out, these elder statesmen and women of gay sports are able to tell their stories in a non-sensationalised context, allowing them to discuss openly and honestly how things have changed since their (often forced) exposure and the work they’ve done to ease the process for younger athletes who’ve found themselves in similar situations.
This first section serves very much as a historical document, with the retrospective chronologically giving way to modern-day gay athletes including Britney Gryner and Charlotte LeBonte.
In fact, LeBonte publicly announced her coming out via an article she published during the filming of the documentary; it’s hard for any filmmaker to get any more current and contemporary than watching the reactions roll in on her Twitter feed. It’s compelling and ultimately uplifting viewing that must have been a huge gamble for the Director, and happily it pays off in spades.
Of course, no documentary on such a divisive and controversial subject can be entirely positive, and Out To Win remembers this, telling the tragic story of Justin Fashanu, the only UK athlete featured in the documentary, who came out while still a professional footballer in the late 1980s and took his own life in 1998. The documentary’s overall tone though is of hopeful progression, but deals with these sadder elements of LGBT sporting history without romanticising or over-dramatising, choosing instead to highlight the progress and good work done in the name of Justin since his death.
The final section of Out To Win looks to the future, with interviews with up-and-coming, soon-to-be professional out gay athletes such as Conor Martens and Chandler Whitney, whose stories of internal turmoil and acceptance from their team-mates, not to mention the wider sporting community, are a hopeful counterpoint to earlier scandals, while still underlining the transformative and often traumatic process coming out can be.
While we see a flash of Matthew Mitcham’s cheeky smile and Tom Daley’s bum mid-dive, both are, to the British viewer, conspicuous by their absence from any further involvement. This, however, does not detract in any way from the stories told, with the filmmaker preferring to focus on mostly US-based and team-oriented sports and the perhaps more controversial comings out of players in traditionally more ‘macho’ team sports such as American Football, Baseball, and Basketball.
Overall Verdict: While Out To Win may seem to be only of interest to those passionate about sports or LGBT history, it opens a window onto a side of the sporting world that would normally not be available for public scrutiny. Truly inspiring and worth a watch to anyone wants to learn how a few brave people can change the Out To Win is a pumped-up documentary, primed to convince sports fans of the need to address homophobia within various games and to praise and support LGBT players brave enough to come out. Whether it converts non-believers into sports fans is another matter. I found the opening montage of out-and-proud athletes strutting their stuff (in a sporty way) to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ to be rather exhilarating, and my ears pricked up when an interviewee explained that the appeal of sport lies in its guarantee of drama, but really I was only interested in the off-pitch stories. Every one of them is inspiring in some way, and all are told well, if briskly.
Though most sports personalities featured are American, the film includes two extraordinary Brits. NBA Hall-of-Famer John Amaechi is spotted in Market Street in Manchester as an overweight, bookish teen. He cites literary character Quasimodo as a kindred spirit for him at the time, as they are both met with amused and frightened reactions by people around them. Within six years Amaechi is idolised on basketball courts across America. Coming out as gay eight years ago and post-NBA he was greeted with praise and hatred. The story of Justin Fashanu is better known and far more tragic, his public shunning by his brother and fans after he came out and his subsequent suicide remains a grim warning for gay footballers today.
As with everything these days, social media will have a role to play in helping LGBT athletes to come out, providing them encouragement, offering them distraction and inevitably facilitating some abuse. When baby-faced college football star Conner Mertens posts a coming-out letter he wrote to his team on Twitter his whole life changes. Olympic gold medallist Charline Labonté is interviewed just as an online piece she has written to publically out herself goes live. We watch her scroll through tweets of support, an experience she describes as ‘overwhelming’. When Labonté notes how positive the response is, in the same breath she anticipates negative tweets to come.
In a statement included in the press material for the film, founder of Outsports.com Cyd Zeigler remarks: ‘gay history has simply been pushed to the sidelines of sports, politics and entertainment for too long’. It follows that Out To Win could not have come soon enough, and it seems director Malcolm Ingram has hit on a winning formula. I can’t wait for him to apply it to the worlds of showbiz and politics. world for the better.
Out To Win will interest its audience, and perhaps even provoke awareness. It’s a fascinating documentary which scrutinises the intersecting, conflicting, and mutually revealing powers of prejudice and sport. As an educational tool, the film buzzes with energy and purpose.
The soul of the film stems from elsewhere; each interviewee’s undeniable passion, knowledge and honesty makes Out To Win a personal, impactful, and, at times, heart-breaking watch.
Unfortunately, as the film draws to an end, the desire to include as many accounts as possible distorts the length, structure, and style, while simultaneously diluting its initial tonal authenticity.
Burdened with scope and significance, Out To Win bypasses several potential endings before its final close. Nonetheless, this is an intimate, insightful and enriching documentary told with compassion and resolve.