BY LYDIA MARTIN, LYDIA@LYDIAMARTIN.COM
In 2004, Dallas County, solidly Republican, solidly conservative, elected its first woman sheriff. Lupe Valdez, the daughter of migrant farm workers, a Latina and an out lesbian, made history. Soon after her win, she was on an airplane and her seatmate, the mother of a young gay man who had struggled with his sexuality, immediately recognized her.
“With your election, you have validated my son,” the woman told her.
“And I wanted to scream. Why can’t we just get validated for being human beings?” Valdez says as she recounts the exchange in The Out List, the just-released HBO film featuring a cross-section of out lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender figures talking about their lives, loves, issues with self-acceptance and hopes for equality under the law.
Against the backdrop of a gay community waiting to see which way the U.S. Supreme Court would go on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8, high-profile subjects such as Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Degeneres, Wanda Sykes, Oscar-winning filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, Scissor Sisters lead singer Jake Shears, former pro football player Wade Davis, New York City politician Christine Quinn, financial guru Suze Orman and several others speak candidly about coming out and about the challenges inherent in being LGBT in America.
“My hope is that this film is seen by a lot of young people,” says director and producer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, a Miami native who was in town recently for a premiere of The Out List at the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. A portrait photographer whose works are in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum and The National Portrait Gallery, he is also director and producer of the films The Black List, The Latino List and 2012’s About Face, featuring conversations with aging cover girls and supermodels including Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, Isabella Rosellini and Paulina Porizkova.