“Out of the South”
Us Southern Gay Boys
“Out of the South” is an amazing documentary about guys like me and you—southerners. A group of friends come together to celebrate a traditional Southern Sunday dinner but they are not in the South; they are in Los Angeles having left their homes in the South for greener gay pastures elsewhere. As they talk, they share their stories of their love of the South (one of them is an Arkansan) and how they feel having lost their Southern culture, being away from their families and religion. Even though they are no longer in the South, they have brought their Southern backgrounds with them.
The director, Jason Ball, says that his goal was to show the “duality of being a gay person from the South… because the South is so entrenched in the Bible belt…homosexuality is not always tolerated.” He further states that all Southerners love the South even if the South doesn’t love them.
The film concentrates on three primary aspects, the three “F’s”—family, faith and food and the Sunday meal is the culmination of these aspects. Sunday is the day the Southern family gets together after church to meet and to eat. Here we have Southern gay men, all from different Southern rural towns who come together to share their stories—stories of persecution, isolation and sometimes violence. Sunday dinner is a tradition that includes all people and in this case our six guys conjure up their Southern states of mind and therefore are more likely to talk about their lives. The stories come from the hearts of the guys and we hear of religious dogma, family intolerance, love, faith and food.
The film shows that being Southern and being gay can indeed go together. When there is a clash of cultures, there can be rough times but there is always hope for a better future. We see that here. The movie is touching and sensitive, personal and endearing and full of emotion. It is a peek into a world that many never have a chance to see and the stories touch us with their honesty. Here is a film that needs to be seen and held dear by all of us Southerners and I truly admire Jason Ball (who is from Arkansas originally) for having made this wonderful look at the way we live.
I am often asked if I have a favorite film and I usually decline to answer but this time I am going to tell you that I found this documentary to be brilliant. It spoke to me directly and it is, for sure, my favorite film of this kind.