Six months ago, we officially launched Closets Are For Clothes into action. We were on a mission, to cover every heart we touch with pride. We set out to show the world that our love is no different. We hoped to destroy every ounce of shame that exists within our community. From the beginning, we knew that it wouldn’t be easy. To be honest, we didn’t even know that it was possible. We only knew that we had to try. Six months ago we made it our job to try.
From the start, CAFC has had an astounding amount of love and support for our cause. We’ve been especially fortunate to have such a great number of people reaching out to help. Because of this support, CAFC has had the opportunity to collaborate with some truly gifted individuals. With our powers combined, we’ve been making magic.
In August, we were contacted by Britt Shand- a videographer who studied Digital Cinema at Northern Michigan University. Britt was inspired by our cause, and hoped to become involved. After meeting with Britt for an interview, we knew right away that she was our missing link. The same day, we filmed our first video clip, titled “Love Unfiltered” which was used for the official launch of our Art Department.
At our second meeting with Britt, we were introduced to Nicki Chastain. Nicki studied Digital Cinema at Northern as well. Together, Britt and Nicki are an unstoppable force of creative genius. We were beyond privileged, and so lucky that they wanted to work with us. Going back and forth on ideas and concepts for our next project, we formed an unexpected bond and a lasting partnership.
In September, we began working on our first big project. We reached out to our community via Facebook, asking if anyone would be brave enough to share their coming out story in our documentary. Luckily, CAFC knows a lot of courageous people. Almost immediately, our inboxes were flooded with friends stepping forward to share their stories, hoping that their voice might make a difference.
That same week, our Production Associate, Prince (formerly known as Lindzay Taylor) came out as transgender. He decided that he would tell his friends and family in our documentary. In the beginning, we were scared; we feared the road that was ahead. We worried about the heartache that he might face if his friends and family weren’t accepting. We feared every little thing that we couldn’t protect him from. Then we remembered, we’re Closets Are For Clothes, and this is what we do. We don't hide from the things that terrify us, because fear doesn’t deserve to win this fight.
Despite our greatest fears, we supported him fully. We found comfort in knowing that although the road ahead may be a challenging one, it will be on that very same road where he finds himself. We are excited to walk beside him as he continues to discover himself, and inspire those around him.
On September 14th, CAFC and our team of filmmakers came together to capture the coming out stories of our friends who were audacious enough share. For the next ten hours, we spilled our guts. We opened our hearts and emptied the contents. With the cameras rolling, we traced the lines all the way back to the beginning, to the very first step that lead us here.
Although every journey was unique, the struggles and triumphs were shared. In the end, we may have been alone on our journey, but we were always united by our destination. All we ever wanted was to be happy. To find comfort in our own skin, to love who we love in the light of day- and the freedom to be exactly who we are, instead of what we were told to be.
By the end of the night, our hearts were overflowing with love for what we had created. We had no idea what the finished product would look like, but we didn’t have to. We already knew it was incredible.
The next three weeks, Britt and Nicki devoted countless hours towards editing the piece. Jessie worked tirelessly on writing, performing and recording the movie score until it was absolutely perfect. The last few days before the release of the documentary, were a bit of a blur. We had to pull a few all nighters in order to make our deadline.
The weeks leading up to the premier, I’d been imagining it to be a spectacular event. For some reason I assumed that everyone in attendance would be dressed as if they were aboard the Titanic. And in my head, the decorations were better than any wedding I’ve attended. In my head there was champagne. And in my head, I was the king of the world.
Meanwhile in the real world, Jessie is suggesting that we call off the premier entirely. There was a lot of work that needed to be done, and we didn’t have much time. I told her not to worry, and that everything would be perfect. That’s why we make such a great team, she worries about real life problems, while I live in the land of unicorns. It’s a balancing act.
The closer we come to our deadline, the more I started to question the legendary night that I had created in my mind. The night before our premier, Jessie and Nicki stayed up until 4:30 AM, fixing audio issues. From Here On Out was finished just 16 hours before the doors opened for our big night.
On October 9th, the cast and crew gathered for the premier of From Here On Out. When we arrived at the hotel, we encountered our first iceberg. As we rushed around to set up, we noticed that something was wrong with the projector. As we scrambled to fix the visual issues, we realized that the projector had no audio. The doors would open to our 50+ guests in approximately 30 minutes.
(I might consider this to be the part in Titanic where the band continues to play as the ship goes down).
Nicki drove to the store to buy speakers, while the rest of us remained anything but calm. Reality set in; we had Titanic dreams and a box wine budget. The guests started pouring in amidst the chaos. I was no longer king of the world.
I managed to compose myself after a talk from my good friend, Phoebe. She promised me that every person in the room was there because of the love they had for us, and for our company. She assured me that they all knew they weren’t at the Star Theatre, and the technical difficulties didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were here, and that they were here because they believed in us. Suddenly every problem that seemed so big just minutes before didn’t matter anymore. It was our big night and it was time to enjoy it.
After our talk, I was ready for anything...except for my speech, I wasn't ready for that. I nervously kicked back a few glasses of wine while Jessie and Britt delivered two incredible speeches. When I had imagined this part in my head, there was a microphone and a podium to hide behind. In real life I had neither of these things, just a shaking piece of paper and my trembling voice. All eyes were on me, and I couldn’t seem to find the words to express how grateful I was to each and every person in that room, I still can’t.
We managed to get the audio fixed, and the visual issues were improved. We explained to our guests that we were experiencing some technical difficulties, cut the lights and pressed play. It was our time to shine.
Jessie and I held Prince close, as we watched it all play out. We squeezed him tightly at the part where he came out as transgender. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud than I was at that moment. I was proud of him, and proud of what we had created. We were in a room full of people, and for a second, it felt like just us three. When the credits rolled, we heard sniffles all around. The lights came on, and all we felt was love. It was the happiest moment of my life.
We are grateful for every person that came out to support us that night; it was a pleasure sharing the night with you. We couldn’t have done any of it without our wonderful cast. You’ve shown us what bravery looks like, and more importantly, what it feels like. You’ve shown us the light at the end of the tunnel, and promised we’ll get there as long as we keep walking.
Britt and Nicki, we cannot thank you enough for turning our vision into a reality. Thank you for your time and devotion to our cause. From Here on Out exceeded our expectations, but we’ve learned to expect that from you by now. We feel privileged to have such talented women as a part of our CAFC team.
Most importantly, I want to thank Jessie. Somehow I forgot you in my speech, but I hope you know that it is an honor to share this company with you. I want you to know, if I were given a choice, I would still pick you every time. It goes without saying; no one makes a better team. Without your talent, and without that big brain of yours, CAFC wouldn’t be what it is today. Thank you for all that you’ve done, and for all that you continue to do.
On October 11th, in celebration of National Coming Out Day, From Here On Out was uploaded to our website. That day, and the weeks following, our documentary was viewed and shared thousands of times over. Since then, our inboxes have been flooded with messages of gratitude of those who viewed it. Some were thanking us for sharing our stories, and some for giving them the inspiration to come out to their own friends and families.
We want to thank every single person that took the time to listen to our stories. For those of you who shared our documentary on social media, we cannot thank you enough. To those of you who took the time to contact us with words of encouragement, thank you. It feels so good to know that our voices are being heard.
To every person who is, or has been down this road- thank you for your guts. Thank you for choosing love, and never looking back. We know that sometimes it isn’t an easy road, just remember that we’re all going to the same place.
Closets are for clothes and it’s about love, from here on out.