America Undercover Why Am I Gay? Stories of Coming Out in America

HBO takes on the tremendous job of trying to explain homosexuality in this country, and finds its subjects -- gays, lesbians, their families and their extended families -- for the most part willing, if not eager, to spotlight their lives as much as possible. For millions of Americans who think they already know the subject, the docu will come as a surprise; for those not interested, all the documentaries in the world won't help.

HBO takes on the tremendous job of trying to explain homosexuality in this country, and finds its subjects — gays, lesbians, their families and their extended families — for the most part willing, if not eager, to spotlight their lives as much as possible. For millions of Americans who think they already know the subject, the docu will come as a surprise; for those not interested, all the documentaries in the world won’t help.

Producers Sheila Nevins and Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg call on individuals such as an NYPD cop and his family, who are comfortable with his gayness; and Midwesterner Michael, who puts on a show with a gay troupe in his hometown. His parents refuse to attend.

Docu also takes a look at a young man in a Kansas institution that emphasizes controlling homosexual impulses through prayer and the buddy system, and at Houston’s HATCH, group meeting at a community center so gays won’t have to meet in bars or parks.

Along the way, a couple of psychiatrists, an anthropologist, a geneticist and a neurobiologist insert the latest theories about homosexuality, but the meat of the program’s in the stories of those involved in getting the most out of life.

The finale shows gays at the March on Washington, joyfully attending a mass wedding that’s as cheerful and fulfilling as those group weddings that conclude Shakespeare comedies. Topper is when Midwestern Michael, whose brother came to hear him back home with the group, sweetly sings a solo at a March on Washington rally.

The program makes its statement about humanity and homosexuality in this country, and the restraints or misgivings of some of the heterosexuals begin to sound like cries in the wilderness.

The heart-touching spec is commendable and, withoutrancor, informative. Another candle’s lit in the dark, and if the answer to the title’s question remains up in the air, at least it’s now a rational one.

America Undercover Why Am I Gay? Stories of Coming Out in America

(Tues. (10 ), 10:15-11:15 p.m., HBO)

Production: Filmed by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg Prods. Exec producer, Sheila Nevins; producers, Lisa Jackson, Kenneth Paul Rosenberg; producer for HBO, Jonathan Moss; director, Rosenberg.

Crew: Camera, Jean De Segonzec, John Hazard; editor, Geof Bartz; sound, Pete Miller, Rick Dior; music, Chris Burke.

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