The documentary Question One, directed by Joe Fox and James Nubile, is playing this week at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in New York City (through Thursday). At every 7 p.m. screening this week, there will be a Q&A with Joe Fox and a few different panelists. Question One covers the 2009 marriage referendum vote in Maine and how out-of-state funding (in this case, a firm from California called Schubert-Flint Public Affairs, the firm responsible for the passing of Prop 8 in California in 2008) influenced the final vote. Having missed out on the chance to see the documentary Escape Fire (which was about the American health care system) last week at Chelsea, I made sure to attend a screening of Question One while I still had a chance. In case you’re wondering whether or not you should go see this film, the short answer would be: Yes, go see this film!
I saw last night’s 7 p.m. showing (Sunday October 21st), which was followed by a Q&A with co-director Joe Fox and a couple of other panelists, including former NFL player Wade Davis. The first question mentioned was: What did the “Yes on One” people fear about losing? The “Yes on One” people feared losing the status quo. They felt marriage was between a man and a woman, and that was part of their identity. They didn’t feel it was something that was alternative, which is why they opposed changing the definition.
Wade Davis, a former NFL player for the Tennessee Titans, talked out how he wasn’t ready to come out of the closet while he was in the NFL. He said that he hated himself at that time and felt that athletes shouldn’t come out until they’re completely ready to do so. It was asked what was stopping athletes from coming out in professional sports. Part of it has to do with long-established routines that athletes have, and they start to doubt whether or not they can continue to be successful if they come out (which is why they need to be completely ready before they come out). Also, gay athletes still want to be referred to as athletes, not gay athletes (which sounds lessening).
Co-director Joe Fox stated that making this movie was a wake-up call for him. He mentioned that 14 years ago, he had tried to force a friend of his to come out of the closet when that friend wasn’t ready. After he started shooting this film, he called up that friend and apologized to him, having realized what a horrible thing he did. He also mentioned that he had to hide his homosexuality for the three months he was shooting in Maine because he felt that he wouldn’t have been allowed the access that he was given. As for his shooting approach, he stated that he let the camera act as a mirror and have it reflect whatever it captures.
Another question brought up was: What role should coaches play in regards to gay athletes? Coaches should start being more supportive but it can get complicated the higher up you go from high school to college to professional. Particularly in the pros, there’s also a sponsorship element that needs to be taken into consideration. It was mentioned that most pro athletes live in a bubble; they’re only concerned with their sport and not really concerned or involved with social issues.
Another question raised was: What role does sexuality really play in sports? Wade mentioned that he hadn’t been worried about what his coach had thought because coaches are much more concerned about wins and losses. He did say that if one particular person became a distraction to the point where it affected the team’s productivity, then that person would be gone. He also stated that parents need to take a bigger responsibility in teaching their kids about equality. There are athletes in the NFL who everyone in the league knows are gay, but no one says anything about it because those athletes aren’t making an issue of it.
It was also mentioned that locker room studies used to be conducted, but those who did them found that no one was really sincere in the locker room and that they weren’t finding out any useful information. Locker room studies have since been pretty much abandoned.
Joe Fox mentioned one last bit. He called Marc Mutty, the campaign chairman for the “Yes on One” campaign, a gift from the film gods because he had unexpectedly become a third focus in the film. Mutty represented the middle of the argument presented in the film, a man who didn’t like the job he had to do and wouldn’t have done had he been given the choice.
Lastly, there are four marriage referendums on the ballot this November in the states of Maine (again), Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota. Keep a close eye on those four states come Election Night (November 6th).