★★★★ | Straight Acting
To most ‘out’ gay men “straight acting” is a derogatory term that is the equivalent of self-loathing. This rather inspiring and enthusiastic wee documentary is one man’s journey coming out of the closet and seeking to define his own concept of being gay when he felt he didn’t fit in with any of the stereotypes that he had known to date.
Spencer Windes was the middle child of a middle-class Mormon family who always did what was expected of him, most of the time that is. At 19 he went off to be a Missionary as his church told him to do, and then he returned home to find a girl, get married and start his own family. Trouble was it didn’t turn out quite like that as Spencer Windes was a deeply closeted gay man and he just hoped that Jesus would sort him out. And we all know how well that usually works out!
At 31 years old, a deeply unhappy four times college drop out Spencer, now weighing some 300 lbs, was unemployed and still living at home. And then the planes crashed on that fateful day on 9/11 and this was the epiphany that changed his life. On the plane that crashed into the field in Pennsylvania one of the heroes who had tried to stop the terrorists was Mark Bingham. He was not only a big burly (handsome) man, but he was also openly gay. He was also a member of San Francisco FOG a new all openly gay Rugby Team, and that part blew Spencer away. To be out and gay was one thing, but to be able to play a rough contact sport like that was totally another.
It inspired him to start losing waiting and sign up to join the LA Ironsides even though he had never played rugby in his life before. Much more importantly it opened his eyes to what was a startling concept to him (and other gay men who live rural lives in particular) to all the alternative gay ‘lifestyles’ that now existed, and which became the subject of this movie.
He went to gay rodeos in the Mid West and met the riders, and to New York to meet gay hockey players and interviewed men who had also struggled with initially opening the closet door, but once they got a taste of what was the other side, came out fully. The universal message from them all was that they had found a gay lifestyle where they fitted in, and were now happy in the own skins at last.
He also followed the journey of the (eventual) success of his own rugby team as it flew to London to complete in the Gay Rugby World Cup poignantly named after Mark Bingham, and there is one very emotional scene where Mark’s mother makes a wee speech to the hoards of excited gay rugby players.
This is no dazzling or profound highly polished documentary but simply the highly personalised account of one very likeable young man’s journey of discovery that I think a lot of others struggling with their own identity would find both uplifting and touching. I really warmed to it, so much so that I can’t wait to start playing rugby! No really, I will.