The new Pixar animated short film Out is a magnificent work of color and narrative. For many viewers, this is the first time that an explicitly gay protagonist is presented in a Disney production.
This film exquisitely expresses the difficulty of what it means to come out. One thing that makes this short stand out from other productions is that it fairly shows how all parties are often hurt.
The very loving Out is written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter. The gay protagonist is Greg, voiced by Kyle McDaniel. The patient and understanding boyfriend Manuel is voiced by Caleb Cabrera. The boisterous, helpful, and well-meaning Mom is voiced by Bernadette Sullivan. And the cat who started it all is Gigi the Cat, voiced by Matthew Martin. Together this team brings to life a heartfelt story that sympathetically tells the problems that arise when trying to come out to your family.
For many who do not have to come out, whether that be because you are straight or because your parents knew from the start and you never had to hide it, this production is simple yet still relatable. It carefully reveals what many gay males fear—that they will not be accepted by those who raised them and love them. The fear is real, the anxiety is terrifying, and this short production spares no emotion when it comes to how characters feel.
The plot is about Greg, who has not come out to his parents as gay. This of course is vexing to his partner Manuel. Both of these characters are planning to move into the city. Greg’s idea is to move to the city where he feels being gay will not be an issue and he will instead feel more accepted. While packing for the city, Greg’s parents make an unscheduled surprise visit to help him with the move. Manuel kindly tells Greg that he needs to tell his parents as he walks out the back door so he won’t be seen. This is where the film’s understanding of both sides is seeded.
Many fantastic elements help to draw out the gay themes in the story. The vibrant rainbow, the delightful boy’s name for their female dog, the cute picture frame, all these aspects help to solidify the gay themes in the story. Each part is used to hint at what is obviously there right in front of them. A key component of the film is that it expresses the difficulty of coming out and the challenges that parents have. The short reveals the anxieties and fears and presents them as a double-edged sword. While it is true that gays who want to come out to their parents have this anxiety of what parents might say, that is only a part of the story. This production helps to show a different side that is sometimes overlooked and underrepresented.
The fantastic body changing that occurs between Greg and his dog by the help of Gigi the Cat really helps to drive home the perspective. Too often, myself included, gays see the pain and struggle through their own eyes. While this is justified since we are the ones who struggle, we do not normally see it from a different perspective. How others get hurt from the secrets we keep from them is at the core of this short. Yet, it also shows how sometimes parents do not listen to their kids when they try to tell them. This hurts both parties.
This is a gentle production that highlights the people we hurt, ourselves, our families, our friends, and even sometimes our boyfriends and how we on occasion unintentionally hurt the people we love.
While it is understood that young gays have sometimes been hurt by their parents when they come out, this is often portrayed as being kicked out of the home or sometimes by physical abuse. This production does something a little different. It shows that not all families react the same way. Some are loving and caring. This particular family is hurt by what has happened. The keeping or hiding a part of yourself from your family can also hurt them. Maybe this is why this film felt deep. Parents are often portrayed in one light, while in reality, there are many who, while they don’t agree, still love their kids and want to still be a part of their lives.
Many individuals will say how this film does not reflect everyone’s story. It is a captivating narrative nonetheless. Coming out stories are not universal and not everyone has the same story. To be honest, this was not my story. It still means a lot that it fairly depicts how many families want their kids to be happy and be loved.
Out is so moving that a box of tissues might be needed, so keep it close at hand, especially when you get to the sweet and heartfelt ending to this much-needed story.
Now streaming on Disney+.
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Donnie Lopez is a gay Latino/Hispanic social and political commentator, writer, entertainment journalist, and professor. He writes on topics that affect Hispanic/Latino culture. With his novel insight, veracity, and sense of humor, he entertains as well as educates the world.