Upcoming PBS premiere ‘Out in America’ features Oregonians

Mike Hartman, of Eagle Creek. Of course the cowboy is from Oregon.

A new PBS production featuring queer Americans called OUT in America will premiere nationally in June to coincide with National Gay & Lesbian Pride month but Oregonians get a sneak peek on OPB this Thursday.

The documentary is directed by Emmy award-winning director Andrew Goldberg.  It examines the stories of queer individuals against the backdrop of public milestones within the LGBT community for the past 50 years.  OUT touches upon such issues as the importance of coming out and speaking up for one’s rights.   It is a positive, humorous, inspirational, and both heartwarming and heartbreaking portrayal of queer life in America.

The program tells diverse stories from across the USA, from urban to rural areas and from San Francisco to Harlem. The documentary discusses sexual awakening, first loves, surprising soul mates, intimacy and freedom from oppression. While the stories told are all different, they are all united by experiences of self-discovery, coming out, pride, love, and triumph over adversity and finding one’s identity.   Each story also traces individual hopes and struggles against the backdrop of broader social change and advancements in equality.

OUT features a variety of diverse queer experiences and people including  a gay rancher, a Latino rapper, a Muslim lesbian, and Puerto Rico’s first openly gay and HIV positive political candidate.  In addition, there are also interviews with such people as Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin and Dr. Patricia Hawkins (a psychologist renowned for her early work with HIV patients).

“The first of its kind, OUT in America is a more realistic portrait of LGBT life than almost anything seen on TV before,” said Goldberg. “So often, media coverage of LGBT life in America is polarizing or exploitative of controversy and homophobia, or alternately LGBT individuals are presented as caricatures of a stereotype. OUT in America however focuses on empowerment, diversity and relationships.”

One of the stories I’m most interested to see is that of “The Harolds,” a biracial couple of octogenarians who are still very much in love after nearly five decades together.  After a half century of struggles and triumphs, The Harolds report feeling “as open as a book.”  The documentary inspires the hope that there will be a “happily ever after” for queer people in America after all.

OUT in America airs on KOPB at 8 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 24 (encore at 9:30 p.m.). Following its exclusive screening in the Portland market, the program premieres nationally on PBS in June.

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