“THE COMING BACK OUT BALL MOVIE”— Celebrating our Elders

“The Coming Back Out Ball Movie” Celebrating Our Elders Amos Lassen Despite having the reputation and appearance of one of the world’s most accepting countries, Australia’s historical precedent of draconian laws is unforgotten by the older LGBT population.
The Coming Back Out Ball Movie” is a documentary that follows a wide cross section of Australia’s ageing LGBT community before they attend a major dance event at the Melbourne Town Hall. The ball was created by organizers to celebrate the new found acceptance granted to older members of the community, many of whom hadn’t publicly come out until they’d passed their 60th or 70th birthdays. Sue Thomson directed this documentary that features enough historical context to establish why so many were more comfortable denying their true selves for most of their lives by and large. We overlook the negatives to focus on the present, and the  happiness that has arrived with their coming out.
The film follows both the organizers of the ball, and those who are planning on participating. The planning committee of the event want to make sure it goes well – after being concerned that people as old as 80 might not want to attend a dance so they even arranged weekly dance classes so that they can learn some moves in time for the big night. There are a number of moving stories told in the documentary. Particularly moving are the stories of the various people who didn’t come out until later in life. We hear from one married couple who divorced because they both realized that they were both attracted to the same sex, while an 87 year old widower came out following his wife’s death and started acting on his own sexual desires. He now attends a weekly leather night at his favorite gay bar and even though he is a good deal older than his fellow patrons, this is irrelevant since he’s finally experiencing happiness and a sense of community. 
This isn’t an overtly political film; it’s a series of human interest tales rooted in a wider historical context. It effectively tells the story of Australia’s past regarding gay rights via character studies. We have a trans woman who came out at the age of 60, after she couldn’t conceal the issue any longer; she tells of dressing up in women’s clothes at the age of 6, before realizing that she wouldn’t be able to pursue her true identity in such an adverse world. Politics aren’t directly mentioned here , rather we hear about the oppressive policies levered at transgender people through the ages. The ball, took place a couple of days before the results of the postal vote on marriage equality were announced. The “Yes” campaign won in a landslide, which provides a spiritual happy ending to the story onscreen. But in one brief moment, we see a bizarre advert from the “No” campaign, which used a strange anecdote from a woman concerned that same sex marriage would lead to her son wearing a dress as its key argument. That 38.4% of people still voted for “No” despite the ridiculousness of the campaign’s argument is a cause for concern and even though Australia remains accepting, there’s still an undercurrent of adversity. 
“The Coming Back Out Ball Movie” is a wonderful tribute to the LGBT elders who are often ignored in society. These are stories that deserve to be told. Not only does the film shine a light on the elder community but serves to remind the younger generations not to discredit such people. These are the people who lost so much to give us what we now take for granted. These are the people who deserve to know how grateful we all are, and forever will be. This is why The Ball is so important.

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