Outrage (2009 film)

Outrage is a 2009 American documentary film written and directed by Kirby Dick. The film presents a narrative discussing the hypocrisy of people purported in the documentary to be closeted gay or bisexual politicians who promote anti-gay legislation. It premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival before being released theatrically on May 8, 2009. It was nominated for a 2010 Emmy Award, and won Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival's jury award for best documentary. The documentary's prime subject was Michael Rogers, founder of BlogActive.com.

Outrage documentary poster.jpg
Directed byKirby Dick
Written byKirby Dick
Produced byAmy Ziering[1]
CinematographyThaddeus Wadleigh[1]
Edited byDouglas Blush
Matthew Clarke[1]
Music byPeter Golub[1]
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release dates
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$287,198[2]



Outrage argues that several American political figures have led closeted gay lives while supporting and endorsing legislation that is harmful to the gay community. The film examines the mass media's reluctance to discuss issues involving gay politicians despite many comparable news stories about heterosexual politicians and scandals. Outrage describes this behavior as a form of institutionalized homophobia that has resulted in a tacit policy of self-censorship when reporting on these issues. The film is based on the work of blogger Michael Rogers and his site blogactive.com.[1][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


Among other subjects, the film includes:

  • Ed Koch, Democratic Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989,[1][11][3][4][12][13] was a lifelong bachelor, dogged by "endless gay rumors", who publicly denied being gay.[14][15] Although his record on LGBT issues is generally positive, he is blamed for treating the emerging AIDS pandemic in the gay community reluctantly, unlike the health crises he handled in other situations. New York and San Francisco were the main epicenters of AIDS in the early 1980s. Critics, most notably Larry Kramer, believe Koch handled the AIDS crisis poorly because he was closeted.[14][15][16]
  • Ken Mehlman, the former Republican national chairman, was named in the film as a closeted homosexual though he was against policies friendly to gays.[1][4][12][17] Mehlman publicly came out in 2010.
  • Larry Craig, former Republican politician and Senator from Idaho. In 2007, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport on suspicion of lewd conduct in a men's restroom, where he was accused of soliciting an undercover police officer for sexual activity.[18][19] Craig pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct by signing and mailing a plea petition. He paid $575, including fines and fees.[20]


People interviewed in Outrage include:

Openly gay politiciansEdit


Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Organization Category Result
2009 Jury Award Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Best Documentary Won[24]
2010 Emmy Award National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Outstanding Investigative Journalism: Long Form Nominated[25]


Film critics responded, for the most part, with positive reviews. Scott Foundas of The Village Voice praised Outrage for its "well-honed arguments, sound sourcing, and journalistic boldness",[26] and the San Francisco Chronicle's Jonathan Curiel described it as "essential viewing".[27] Variety's John Anderson wrote that the film "is operating from a position of righteous indignation, and that indignation is infectious", while criticizing the film's lack of evidence in making certain arguments.[28] Critic Armond White disliked the film, calling it "no more serious than the spiteful gossipy clown Perez Hilton", and writing that the decision to only out conservatives "influences ideological separatism, encouraging the idea of elite gay privilege".[29]

In an interview with New York Post, Ed Koch denounced the film and claimed that it mischaracterized his record on gay issues.[30] He did not respond to the film's assertions that he had failed to adequately respond to New York City's AIDS epidemic, or to the film's assertions that he had had a boyfriend whom he had pressured to leave New York and remain silent about their relationship.



While some journalists named the political figures discussed in the film,[7][31][32] other prominent news organizations, such as The Washington Post, CNN, and NPR, did not report names.[23][33][34] Dick questioned this reluctance, saying, "The press often reports on things that are very painful to the subjects they are writing about. [Closeted gay politicians] are public officials; this is reporting on hypocrisy, and there is an obligation on the press to write about it."[23]

NPR reviewEdit

In a review for NPR,[10] film critic Nathan Lee named Outrage's primary subjects. NPR altered Lee's review by removing these references.[35][36] Lee responded in a comment on NPR's website:

I personally disagree with NPR's policy—there is no other area of 'privacy' that elicits such extreme tact. [I] also feel that it is a professional affront to my responsibility as a critic to discuss the content of a work of art, and an impingement of my First Amendment right to free speech and the press.[35]

NPR deleted this comment as well.[35] An NPR editor later explained these actions, noting that, "NPR has a long-held policy of trying to respect the privacy of public figures and of not airing or publishing rumors, allegations and reports about their private lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so."[37] This statement drew immediate criticism, as NPR had previously speculated on the sexual orientation of public figures such as Adam Lambert and Queen Latifah.[37][38] This led to questions about why closeted entertainers presented a "compelling reason" for reporting while closeted politicians did not.[39]

GLAAD Media AwardsEdit

Outrage did not receive a nomination for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[40] Some journalists wrote that this decision must have been a deliberate snub because Outrage had been one of 2009's most prominent LGBT films.[41][42][43][44] GLAAD responded to the criticism by arguing that Outrage "doesn't promote awareness, understanding and respect for LGBT lives and thus does not fit the criteria for the GLAAD Media Awards".[45] Dick said that he was troubled by GLAAD's apparent stance against reporting on closeted anti-gay politicians, noting that "by taking this position, GLAAD is playing into the same philosophy that has kept the closet in place in politics for decades and has caused so much damage".[46]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Anderson, John (April 25, 2009). "Film Reviews: Outrage (Documentary)". Variety. Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  2. ^ Outrage (2009) - Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l O'Hehir, Andrew (May 7, 2009). "Behind Washington's closet door". Salon. Salon Media Group. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Paris, Barry (June 18, 2009). "'Outrage': Documentary opens the closet door on gay politicians". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Zak, Dan (May 8, 2009). "'Outrage' Drags Politics' Conservative Wingtips Out of the Closet". Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Towle, Andy (April 23, 2009). "Closeted Gay Politicians Hung Out to Dry in Outrage". Towleroad. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Turan, Kenneth (2009-05-08). "Movie Review: Outrage". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Scott, A. O. (May 7, 2009). "Secret Lives in the Age of Gay Rights". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Plant, Tim (May 7, 2009). "Secret Lives: Kirby Dick's new documentary looks at closeted politicians". Metro Weekly. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Nathan (May 8, 2009). "White-Hot 'Outrage' Over The Capitol Hill Closet". Movies. NPR. Retrieved April 12, 2013. This NPR piece is reported to have previously included the byline of Nathan Lee, and to have listed Charlie Crist. Megan Slack (May 29, 2009), "'Outrage' Documentary: Activists Outing Gay Conservatives, Huffington Post.
  11. ^ a b c Milvy, Erika (April 27, 2009). "Kirby Dick Is Outraged!". Advocate. Here Media. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e Foundas, Scott (June 11, 2009). "Outrage peers behind the closet door at Washington's not-so-secret gays". Dallas Observer. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Thompson, N. P. (June 7, 2009). "The elixir of role-playing: Notes on Outrage". Slant. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Humm, Andy (February 3, 2013). "Ed Koch: 12 Years as Mayor, A Lifetime in the Closet". Gay City News. New York. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Bennett-Smith, Meredith (February 1, 2013). "Ed Koch Gay? LGBT Community Weighs In On Late NYC Mayor's Polarizing Gay Rights Record". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  16. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (January 18, 2013). "Judging Mayor Koch's AIDS Record, Whispers Aside". The New York Times. Big City (column). Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  17. ^ Wachter, Paul (August 26, 2010). "Ken Mehlman Owes Gays an Apology, Says Gay Activist Who Outed Him". AOL News. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  18. ^ Huff, Jeanne (September 17, 2007). "Tourists flock to Minneapolis airport men's room". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  19. ^ "HBO documentary 'Outrage' hits hypocritical gay politicians with an angry call to clean the closet". Daily News. New York. October 5, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  20. ^ State Of Minnesota vs Larry Edwin Craig. Case No. 27-Cr-07-043231. (Hennepin County District Court 07/02/2007).Text Note: In order to access the records, search by name or case number in the Criminal/Traffic/Petty Case Records database.
  21. ^ a b c d Guthmann, Edward (May 10, 2009). "'Outrage' takes on closeted gay politicians". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Full cast and crew for Outrage (2009)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  23. ^ a b c Leiby, Richard (2009-05-06). "Documentary's Camera Aims To Shed Light On D.C.'s Closet". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  24. ^ "Best Documentary". Miami, Florida: Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. April 24, 2009.
  25. ^ Popkey, Dan (July 21, 2010). "Two films with Idaho political connections to be honored at Emmy Awards". The Idaho Statesman.
  26. ^ Foundas, Scott (2009-05-05). "Kirby Dick's Outrage Outs Closeted Pols and the Media that Protect Them". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  27. ^ Curiel, Jonathan (2009-05-08). "Review: Outrage". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  28. ^ Anderson, John (2009-04-25). "Outrage". Variety. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  29. ^ White, Armond (2009-05-06). "Outrage". New York Press. Archived from the original on 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  30. ^ "Koch Has Right to Be Outraged". New York Post. 2009-04-29. Archived from the original on 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  31. ^ Foundas, Scott (2009-05-06). "Outrage: Dick Outs, Gays Hide". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  32. ^ Reinhard, Beth (2009-05-01). "New film doesn't 'out' Gov. Crist". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-17.[dead link]
  33. ^ "Outrage: New film outs gay politicians". CNN. 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2009-06-17.[dead YouTube link]
  34. ^ "White-Hot 'Outrage' Over The Capitol Hill Closet". NPR.org. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  35. ^ a b c Hernandez, Eugene (2009-05-11). ""Outrage" Review Spiked for Naming Names". indieWIRE. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  36. ^ Baron, Zach (2009-05-11). "NPR Censors Its Own Review of Outrage, Cites "Old-Fashioned" and Quite Possibly Dishonest Policy". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  37. ^ a b Buchanan, Kyle (2009-05-11). "NPR's Hypocrisy: Outrage Review Censored, Gay Idol Speculation OK". Movieline. Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  38. ^ "Why Is NPR Picking And Choosing Which Public Figures To Out?". Queerty. 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  39. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (2009-05-22). "NPR Responds to Movieline's Accusations of Hypocritical Outrage Handling". Movieline. Archived from the original on 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  40. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  41. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (2010-01-13). "Outrage Endures the Final Insult with a GLAAD Awards Snub". Movieline. Archived from the original on 2010-12-28. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  42. ^ Knegt, Peter (2010-01-13). ""Outrage"-ous GLAAD Media Award Nominees". Indiewire. Archived from the original on 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  43. ^ "GLAAD Nominates Every Movie + TV Show With Gay Characters, Appeal, Punchlines. Except Outrage?". Queerty. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  44. ^ Bolcer, Julie (2010-01-15). "Did GLAAD Snub Outrage?". The Advocate. Retrieved 2010-11-05.[permanent dead link]
  45. ^ Rogers, Mike (2010-01-15). "Outrage not Nominated for a GLAAD Award". BlogActive. Archived from the original on 2010-12-22. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  46. ^ Towle, Andy (2010-01-20). "Outrage Director Kirby Dick Responds to Awards Snub: 'Isn't it Time for GLAAD to Stop Protecting the Closet?'". Towleroad. Retrieved 2010-11-05.

Further readingEdit

  • "How Queer Is That? - Funny how prominent conservatives with antigay records are so often caught in gay sex scandals, isn't it?". Back Story. Newsweek. Vol. 155, no. 23. Newsweek Inc. June 7, 2010. p. 56. ISSN 0028-9604.

External linksEdit