About the Documentary
Coming Out Cops is a documentary film that introduces its audience to a group of Two-spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (2SLGBTQ+) law enforcement professionals from Ontario, Canada.
The documentary unpacks the multiple, dynamic, and often conflicting “coming out” processes these sworn-professionals navigate in their personal and professional lives.
For many amongst the film’s cast, this includes not only opening up to their families, friends, and communities about their 2SLGBTQ+ identities, but also coming out within the para-military culture of law enforcement that can be characterized both historically (and in many ways, currently) by an environment of hyper-masculinity in which sexuality- and gender- minority individuals may be marginalized or even persecuted when they come out as 2SLGBTQ+ to their colleagues and superiors.
In addition, they have a similar experience when “coming out” as police officers and law enforcement professionals to friends, family, and chosen family in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as many people within the community harbour feelings of mistrust towards law enforcement as a result of historical and ongoing experiences of over-enforcement and under-protection.
This “triple bind” (personal identity, professional identity, connection to 2SLGBTQ+ community) is the nexus at which the audience and subjects of the film are introduced.
Inspiring change from the inside, out
The idea for the documentary came from S/Sgt. Sandra Sparling, Ottawa Police Service after experiencing the effects of the “triple bind” as an 2SLGBTQ+ police officer.
She recruited Cst. Patty Retsinas (Ret’d), Toronto Police Service and Jean Turner, Civilian Member for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Co-chair of Serving with Pride (SWP).
Serving with Pride, is a not-for-profit network organization that provides affirmation and support for 2SLGBTQ+ identified law enforcement personnel, as well as training and education to police services and law enforcement across Ontario. We are grateful for the official support of SWP.
Technical production is provided by DFF Productions, Aaron Sheedy, Carla Sheedy and Shane Morrison.
Dr. Blair Niblett, Trent University supports the project as an academic consultant.
Together they form the entire production team.
A message from the Director
I want to thank the Production team, Sandra Sparling, Patty Retsinas, Jean Turner, Shane Morrison, Blair Niblett and Carla Sheedy for their vision, hard work and commitment to this documentary.
This film has been a labour of love for all of us, one that saw significant changes from our original vision of the film to what it ultimately became.
We filmed in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and during that time the earth shifted twice. First was the pandemic, which cancelled our planned ending to film at Toronto Pride and limited our ability to interview and film,
And the second was the worldwide response after George Floyd was murdered, which changed our audience and as Producers it changed the way we wanted to present the story of Coming Out Cops.
We had to adapt to both these events to find a meaningful presentation of the material, which I am proud to say…we achieved.
We recorded approximately 1,500 minutes of video and scaled that down to the 47-minute final version you will see today.
We interviewed upwards of 24 people for the movie, many of whom do not appear on screen in the final cut. However, whether on screen or not, their thoughts and feelings had significant influence in the way that we presented the film and the messages that we shared.
We hope that the film bridges the gap of understanding between 2SLGBTQ+ police, police services and the queer and trans community as well as Black, Indigenous and other vulnerable people.
If you are in law enforcement, as you watch the film, we challenge you to think about the experience of your 2SLGBTQ+ colleagues and how you might change the way you interact with queer, trans and other marginalized people in your work.
If you are not a police officer, we challenge you to understand the experience of 2SLGBTQ+ police officers and imagine how you might contribute to dialogue with the police services in your community.
I invite all police services, Government agencies and other interested groups, including the 2SLGBTQ+ community to book a private screening with us.
On behalf of the entire Production team, we hope you will enjoy the film and that it will provide a catalyst for much needed dialogue and change.
“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”