The Coming Back Out Ball Movie is an observational documentary, focusing on a group of elderly LGBTI+.
On a mission to create a space for this group to gather and be themselves, performance artist Tristan Meecham organises a ball celebrating their sexual identity and gender. Dealing with such rarely discussed issues of social isolation and getting older, these extraordinary people live each day with compassion and a self-deprecating humour.
Filmed around the time of the Marriage Equality vote in Australia, this documentary highlights the changing world and its attitude towards LGBTI+, as we witness acceptance coming into their lives, possibly for the first time.
The film sets out to show the lead up to the Ball, but particularly to tell the story of 12 of the ‘elders’ whose stories helped inspire a younger generation to organise the event. The event itself saw hundreds attend with many acts performing, including entertainer Robyn Archer, The Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus, aerialists, drag queens and indigenous soprano Deborah Cheetham.
Journalist Gay Alcorn wrote of the Ball:
They arrived in sequins and feathers, six-inch heels and pancake makeup. They arrived, too, in T-shirts and hiking boots, frocking up for no one. There were walking sticks and wheelchairs, a blind man with a guide dog, a woman with a shirt saying “This is what an old lesbian looks like”. This was their night, and they’d come as they please.
The people starring in this film lived double lives, they remembered when being homosexual was illegal, when contracting AIDS was a death sentence and transgender people were shunned (they still are). In the year following the marriage debate, it is not surprising that the Melbourne International Film Festival chose The Coming Back Out Ball as their closing night gala event.
This film is beautifully shot, not only documenting these people’s lives but showing the renewed hope and tenderness they have received. Love is for everyone and it is wonderfully communicated here. The coming out experience for these people was incredibly scary and painful but on this night, they had nothing to prove and all to dance for. They are equal.