Inside Out 2009: Be All That You Can Be
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Inside Out 2009: Be All That You Can Be

Photo courtesy of GAT Productions.

It’s Day 3 of the Inside Out festival, and there’s a whole bucket load of queer films to catch.
It’s easy to get complacent about gay rights in Canada, what with our marriage equality and our The Hills Aftershow. But some other parts of the world aren’t so fortunate. Gay-rights groups around the world were horrified to hear reports of Iraqi citizens being executed “in batches” after being found guilty of the “crime” of homosexuality. And while things aren’t nearly that bad south of the border, they could still be a lot better. Sure, New Englanders are rejoicing over a steady stream of new states accepting gay marriage, but the passing of Prop 8 was a pretty depressing moment in history for American queers. And what’s really getting the Yanks steamed these days is Barack Obama’s apparent forgetfulness in terms of the election promises he made to the LGBT community, specifically his plans to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Which brings us to today’s pick: documentary feature Ask Not.
If you don’t know much about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or the history of gays in the American military, Ask Not is a great place to begin your education. As a doc, it’s polished, informative, and makes excellent use of both archival footage, and new material, mostly focused on a variety of different people who, in different ways, have attempted to speak out against America’s policy of institutional discrimination. It’s particularly interesting to see how Bill Clinton, who ironically introduced the policy in an attempt to allow gays greater freedom to serve in the military, now considers the policy a failure. But the real strength of the doc lies in its ability to put a face on the people who have been affected by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, particularly a gay couple who meet and fall in love while in the midst of touring military bases to speak out against it.
These days, the prez seems to be making a lot of excuses about how it’s soooooooo complicated to get rid of this bigoted policy, but as Ask Not reminds us, Harry Truman ended racial segregation in the military in 1948 with the sign of a pen. In a perfect world, Obama would watch this film, and then start making with the signatures.
Ask Not screens at 12:30 p.m. at the ROM.