Robin Cloud has been called “a fresh new voice in LGBT cinema” by Refinery29, and the comedian and popular host of The Triple Minority Report has now written, directed, and starred in her first short film. Out Again is a touching dark comedy about a lesbian’s struggle to introduce her new wife to her mother, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. The film addresses the universal LGBT experience of coming out, often over and over again, throughout our lives. I spoke with Robin about her inspiration for the film, coming out, and her upcoming projects.
AE: You both direct and star as the lead in this film. Was Out Again inspired by your own coming out experience?
RC: Out Again wasn’t inspired by my coming out experience. I came out when I was sixteen, but I was inspired by an experience that I had with my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. We liked to talk once a week on the phone and when we would chat, she would ask me the same questions and then there would be a pause and she would start from the beginning again. Once that started happening, I thought, wow, what if she forgot that I was gay? And with that, I started to write Out Again.
AE: The film is moving not just for its intimate portrayal of coming out, but also dealing with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s. Because your character has to come out repeatedly, it is all the more difficult. While I don’t have a parent with Alzheimer’s, I can relate to this, and I think gay people in general have to come out constantly. It’s never just a one time thing. What are your thoughts on that?
RC: Yes, I totally agree. I don’t think that people realize that as queer people, we exist in a constant state of coming out. Whenever you start a new job, move into a new apartment, and even when simply meeting new people, you have to come out again and again. It can be exhausting to have to constantly announce who you are to the world, but it always lends itself to interesting interactions.
AE: I love the scene where you are having the conversation with your mom about “which one of you is the man” and what you wore to your wedding. I think a lot of lesbians can relate to that, and it’s also a humorous moment, albeit frustrating. I’ve had that conversation with my own mother. Was that inspired by a real-life conversation you’ve had before?
RC: Yes, when I was getting married, although I’m now happily divorced, I told my mother that I wanted to wear a suit. She was a little taken aback by that and had to come to terms with my desire to be more masculine presenting. She suggested that I wear a blouse or a shirt with a vest, but I insisted on wearing a suit. I had a vision of myself and that was it. Because I’m more masculine presenting, I always get asked if I’m the man in the relationship. I can’t tell you how many times, primarily straight men, have asked me that. It seems like it is the only way that they can relate to the idea of a butch woman.
AE; Most people know you first as a comedian and host of The Triple Minority Report. How has comedy helped you navigate the world as a gay woman?
RC: When I started out as a comedian, I had an agent tell me that I shouldn’t tell gay jokes because if I did I would be limiting myself, and be less successful. I struggled with that advice but ultimately decided to stick with my true voice and speak from my experience. Yes, I might have missed out on a few gigs because they didn’t want or need a “gay comic” or maybe already had filled the quota for that, but I don’t regret my decision. Comedy has allowed me to process some of the most painful parts of my life. I’ve got an entirely new set thanks to my divorce!
AE: Do you think Black women, especially Black lesbians, are fairly and accurately represented in film and TV these days?
RC: NO! My god! I don’t think Black women or women of color in general are properly represented. But I feel like the tides are turning, and more women, like me, are taking matters into their own hands and creating the roles for themselves rather than waiting around for someone to cast them. Now is the time for us to take the industry by storm!
AE: How did you get into comedy?
RC: I got involved with acting at a young age and in high school was always cast in the comedic roles in my school plays, so I knew that I loved performing. I actually started off as a singer songwriter and then realized that I wanted to say more and started doing stand up. My first show was an open mic on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. After that first night I was hooked.
AE: What made you turn your interest toward film?
RC: I was a film major in college and have always loved film. So for me, it felt like a natural progression to return to an art form that I truly enjoyed. Being able to write, direct, act, and produce allows me to use all of the skills that I’ve developed over the years and finally, I can be as opinionated as I want to be and not get in trouble for it.
AE: Will we be seeing more movies from you?
RC: Yes, I’m currently in development for a docu-series called Passing While Black, which chronicles the journey of some of my family members who left Harlem in the 1940’s, moved to Nebraska, and decided to pass for white. I’m also working on the feature length version of Out Again and a few shorts.
Out Again is live online now. You can watch it in full at www.refinery29.com/shatterbox.