Would you film your own coming out?
Just when you think there's no new way to do a coming-out story, along comes Seattle teenager Alden Peters . . . who films his own outing.
He sets up the camera – sometimes two cameras – and, with permission, lets it film while he has conversations with his siblings, his friends and finally his parents.
Oh my God, I hear you say.
Yes, "Dad, there's something I need to talk to you about and do you mind if I film our conversation?"
Clearly, none of them minded – and clearly they could've withdrawn permission to include their footage in this doco if things got sticky.
Actually, every coming-out chat Alden has goes incredibly well. Which is why about half-way through I found myself thinking where's the drama? Conflict? Even mild antagonism? Not even a snarl. Everyone's so happy and positive and reassuring. Nothing at all like my own coming out.
Then I turned to my partner – tears flooding down his face.
Clearly, I'd missed the point, as much as I enjoyed the filmmaking which is pretty good from this budding director.
The point is this: Nothing is as heartbreakingly reassuring as watching all those around you come to you with hugs and cool comments when you reveal what will probably be the biggest reveal in your life.
As a social document this is a priceless capture of how far we really have come. So, there are lots of hurdles facing us all as a community. But if anyone over 30 had such a wonderful coming out as this, you're rare.
Mum Veda says: "It doesn't matter to me at all. I'm glad you told me, though it'd be sad if you didn't."
Stepdad Greg says: "That's cool. You're a cool guy."
Mum had suspected when she saw Facebook pics of a mate massaging Alden at the beach. "No, that was just a friend," Alden says.
Mum: "I have to ask, does it hurt in the butt?"
Alden: "We're not gonna have that conversation, Mom."
His dad's a little taken aback: "OK. That's all right. It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. Honestly, it's OK."
Later, his dad says: "I was terrified I thought he was gonna say he was sick, something was wrong. I absolutely panicked. When he told me it was a little shocking but not what I expected."
Alden uses a narrative device of mounting his camera on the dashboard to film him and his brother on a road trip, chatting as they go. That's how the film opens and he cuts back to their conversation, finally ending the film with this sweet exchange:
Brother: "I love you."
Alden: "You just threw that in for the camera."
Brother: "It's true. I do love you. And I don't say it enough,"
By this time I was bawling too.
- Coming Out screens at Mardi Gras Film Festival on Saturday, Feb 25 at 2pm at Event Cinemas George Street. Details, tickets here.
- Alden Peters will be a guest at the screening and he will also host a free documentary masterclass on Sunday, Feb 26, noon to 2pm, at ACON.