This documentary gave me a sense of pride for two reasons. One being that the director Malcolm Ingram (Bear Nation, Continental) is Canadian and considered one of the up and coming stars of historical documentary film making. Two, is that the sports world which has for way too long been a homophobic and sexist environment is slowly changing.
That being said, Out to Win eloquently tells the tale of the history of queer athletes with all the struggles they have had to face just to be able to play the sports they love and are (most importantly) great at. It starts with a general overview of gay athletes, male and female, in a multitude of sports then turns to focusing on a few individuals like Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Michael Sam, Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and Billy Bean.
Sports have always been popular throughout human history. We as a species just love the thrill of it all and the unknown element. How are games going to end? Who is going to emerge triumphant? Sport is truly the original and ultimate reality show. More people are tied to one sport or another than any other past time.
Gays in sport have been like a dirty little secret until very recently. Much like in society in general, gay athletes have always existed, but have been forced to hide who they truly were up until very recently. It has been a complex relationship that is still evolving. Ingram’s film never presents the issue as a fait accompli. Rather it acknowledges that is in a continual state of flux with loads of work left to do. For every triumphant story there is a dark one. Though the overall tone of the documentary is one of hope for the future.
Where do we go from here? That is the main question you are left with at the end of watching Out to Win. As stated in it, LGBT inclusion in sport is happening and there is no going back. Every subsequent Michael Sam (NFL/CFL) or Brittney Griner (WNBA) or Jason Collins (NBA) or Charline Labonté (Team Canada Women’s Hockey) makes it easier for the next man/boy or woman/girl. Athletes are feeling safe enough now to come out earlier.