By Brent Davidson
4th December 2018

It is very hard to talk about subjects that are so near and dear to so many on the team here at SWITCH - and more so of a community that themselves feel are often written out of the narrative. That’s where The Coming Back Out Ball steps in - a night of celebrating LGBTQI+ elders and everything they have accomplished and given us.

‘The Coming Back Out Ball Movie’ chronicles the preparation for the gala event, from initial conception, through the planning stage, and finally the big night itself. It’s not all just about logistics though; how could a story like this be just about logistics! It is, much like the event itself, a love letter and homage to the elders of what is referred to in the film as the "alphabet community", and as such focuses on a cast of key characters, all with their own strong personalities, stories and senses of humour that help shape the narrative of this landmark event.


I am so glad this film was made. Not only because it will serve as a time capsule of the months leading towards Australia’s Same Sex Marriage victory, but that it shows this celebration wasn’t created by a plucky bunch of young people looking to put on an event for some vapid self-effacing reason. The care, consultation and dedication to the community this film shows is a masterclass in cultural organisation and displays the way that these sorts of endeavours should be undertaken. It reminded me of a lecture I once heard, where the lecturer stated, “In collaborative work, there can never be enough conversation,” and let's be honest, it looked like the editors of this film would have had their hands full will all the conversation that was taking place!

Capturing the tone of social isolation, especially of the alphabet community elders, is the revelatory and also heartbreaking flow the film takes. So often are we shown a side of the lifestyle that is more glitter than substance, but we often forget where we came from. These are the people who paved the way for the glitter we now covet to fall so freely. These are the people who lost so much to give us what we now take for granted. These are the people who deserve to know how grateful we all are, and forever will be. This is why The Ball is so important: not only does it shine a light into this, but serves to remind the younger generations not to discredit such people; they have done so much for you.

These are the people who lost so much to give us what we now take for granted. These are the people who deserve to know how grateful we all are, and forever will be. This is why The Ball is so important.

Closing the Melbourne International Film Festival this year, ‘The Coming Back Out Ball Movie’ is an Australian documentary that deserves to be seen. It is timely and poignant but at the same time a most uplifting, bubbly and effervescent display of a community that, while it might has its flaws, is galvanised and strong. If this film could be part of a high school syllabus, I would definitely want to see it there. Prepare to laugh and cry and, by the end, energised to continue to support and fight for these elders who did the same for us.

Click here to read our interview with ‘The Coming Back Out Ball Movie’ director, Sue Thomson.

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