May 1, 2009 / 5:21 PM / in 9 years

Tribeca film targets hypocrisy in U.S. gay politics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A documentary called “Outrage” argues that closeted homosexual U.S. politicians who vote against the interests of gays and lesbians should be “outed” because their hypocrisy has slowed the progress of gay rights.

Written and directed by Kirby Dick, the film relies on interviews with people who claim to have had gay relationships with politicians who vote against gay marriage, hate crime legislation, gays in the military, and funding for HIV/AIDS research.

“Outrage” premiered at this week’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York and opens on May 8 in select U.S. cities.

“My film is not about outing gay politicians. It is about reporting on hypocrisy,” Dick told Reuters. “When a politician is in the closet and voting anti-gay with a very consistent record, he’s acting hypocritically and I think it’s completely appropriate for me to report on that.”

“Outrage” follows journalists like Michael Rogers of BlogActive.com, who has made a name for himself digging up information about the sexual preferences of politicians who he says vote against the interests of gay people.

“I‘m going to tell people who these terrible traitors are - and they are traitors to their people, I believe that,” Rogers says in “Outrage.”

‘PROTECT THE CLOSET’

Dick said the film took three years to make and that he researched rumors relating to about 30 male and female politicians. The six politicians targeted in the film, all male, include a governor, a former mayor and a U.S. congressman.

Dick said that he did not interview any of the politicians he “outs” in the film or give them an opportunity to respond.

He does include documentary footage of them either denying they are gay or declining to discuss their sexual orientation.

“I‘m 100 percent certain that all of the information in the film is 100 percent accurate,” said Dick, whose previous film, “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” explored the arbitrariness of movie ratings.

“Outrage” argues that gay politicians who insist publicly that they are straight often end up voting against their own interests as gay people in order to “protect the closet” and divert attention away from their sexuality.

The film comes at a time when gay rights issues appear to be gathering steam.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed that a majority of Americans think the U.S. military should abandon its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly regardless of their sexual orientation.

Four states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa -- have legalized gay marriage, and two other states, New Hampshire and Maine, offer same-sex couples some form of legal recognition. California briefly recognized gay marriage until voters banned it in a referendum last year.

At the same time, forty-three U.S. states have laws explicitly prohibiting gay marriage, including 29 with constitutional amendments restricting marriage to unions between a man and woman.

Dick, who is heterosexual, said he made the film to encourage young gay politicians to be upfront about their sexuality when they run for office.

“I hope that in 20 years the closet will no longer be a major factor in American politics,” he said.

Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh

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