According to a new poll, large majorities of Americans are ready for gay athletes in major sports. With Michael Sam coming out of the closet this week, it seems like we may be reaching a great turning point…and that this script idea I once had is looking more and more obsolete. As a populist celebration of our tolerant majority and as a salute to Sam, I thought I would publish it here today. Here’s a film we might have needed five years ago…good thing we don’t now. Still, I think it could have been funny.
DOUG, OUT (treatment)
Our hero, Doug, late-20s, shy, good-looking (Joseph Gordon-Levitt type), arrives at St. Louis’s airport, making a phone call. He meets his old high-school class-mate Claudia for a dinner date at a nice restaurant. Claudia is snarky, witty and wise to the ways of the world (SNL cast member would be good). They catch up on ten years – Doug is a major-league catcher just traded to the Cardinals, Claudia is a sales rep for Anheuser-Busch. They return to his place where Claudia hits on him and he stops it. Her feelings are hurt until he admits that he’s gay. He convinces her with some of his more extravagant purchases. She wants to know why he won’t come out of the closet. He says that he’d like to, but it’s not reasonable while he’s in the major leagues. She frowns at that, saying that attitudes are changing.
In the locker room, Doug meets his new team-mates. One naked guy coming out of the shower shakes Doug’s hand and makes a crack about how this almost seems gay, but don’t worry, it isn’t. This leads to a spirited round of gay-bashing and homophobic slurs amongst the players. One of the most spirited of the haters is Kevon, a jock guy for whom everything seems to come easily (Kevin Hart type). Doug hears all the slurs and keeps a poker face, realizing that if he told these men who he really was, he might get hurt.
Claudia texts Doug for lunch, and they meet. Doug wants her help; he wants a date. Claudia says she’d love to help but she has no idea where to start. She grills him: don’t you go online? Don’t you gays meet in your own bars? Doug says all of that is too risky, anyone might recognize him from SportsCenter and then his career could be over. They agree that they need a bar where straights and gays both go. Claudia, being more local, tries to find them one. They go there that night, but it’s a nightmare; Claudia is the only woman there. She notes that the lighting is very low and encourages Doug to try to find someone anyway, and he does, but everyone at this bar seems to be into groping and cheap thrills. Not Doug’s style; they run out.
Days pass in spring training. We see that Doug takes (legal) performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Doug meets the team’s owner, a brassy older woman (Christine Baranski type). Doug shares texts with Claudia to the effect that she owes him a boyfriend after the disaster at that bar. Doug wants her to make inquiries around Anheuser-Busch; they have 1000s of employees, ergo some are gay. Claudia doubts she can help…days later she texts Doug that she’s found a friend who also has a gay friend who hates bars and is looking for a date.
Doug meets Harvey for a coffee. Harvey is cute and self-assured but nerdy (Jim Parsons type). They get on well and there’s chemistry. Harvey is a waiter; he asks Doug what Doug does for a living, and Doug stammers “Sales.” For who? “Budweiser.” Oh, well, Harvey’s surprised he hadn’t heard of Doug before. Moving on, they have many common interests, same movies and music and favorite cities. They get on really well, and they both say this doesn’t usually happen. They end the date with a very light kiss.
Doug is walking on air, he meets Claudia to tell her he is thrilled with Harvey. Doug tells her about the little lie about sales – just to protect his own job – and asks Claudia for details. She says Doug should just tell Harvey the truth. Doug says he will after they sleep together, when he’s sure he can trust Harvey. Doug texts Harvey to see if Harvey wants to watch an NCAA tournament game that’s happening in St. Louis, and Harvey says sure.
Doug and Harvey go to the basketball game, and in the course of conversation Harvey reveals that he’s dated a few major-sport athletes and will never date one again. Doug asks why? Harvey says one reason is the fear of injury and the drugs they all take – it makes them into time-bombs who you can never expect to grow old with. Second and more important is the lying – he refuses to be anyone’s “secret,” and besides he finds that a person who lies to others will eventually lie to him (Harvey) too. No athletes, no liars, period. Doug drives Harvey home and they make out a little in the car, but Doug stops it. Harvey doesn’t invite him up.
Doug texts Claudia; she says all he has to do is publicly come out. Doug refuses to do that. Instead he has a whirlwind romance with Harvey as the major-league season begins. Doug lies that his last name is Schwartz. He and Harvey have a montage of fun activities, including sleeping together. Doug learns that Harvey isn’t into baseball; nonetheless, in restaurants, he tends to sit Doug away from the TV, just in case Doug’s face were to appear on SportsCenter. (Because Doug plays catcher, his face is covered by a mask during half of his games, but Doug is still extra-careful with Harvey.) Occasionally, someone will say “Aren’t you Doug Holliday?” and if Harvey is there Doug says “Nope, but I get that all the time.” Harvey wants to know why Doug is gone for week-long stretches at a time, and he shrugs, “sales.”
Harvey wants to move in. Doug asks Claudia what to do, she says: COME OUT. Then, one seemingly normal day in the locker before a game, a random player confronts Doug: Did I see you holding hands with a guy in a restaurant last night? WTF? Ain’t no room for fags showering next to me! There’s a near-brawl, but Kevon, surprisingly, stops it. He says they can discuss it after the game.
Kevon pitches a one-hitter, a real gem, and there’s a minor press conference after. The manager asks Kevon to come up and take questions, and Kevon says fine. Doug interjects that as the catcher he was part of it too and he wants to get up there. The manager frowns but Kevon says that’s fine. The three of them field the usual sports questions and then Doug says “Excuse me, there’s something else I want to say.” Kevon says, “Doug, no. Before you do, I have something I have to say.” And with that, Kevon comes out as gay. Doug applauds and in no way tries to steal his thunder.
Of course Kevon makes national headlines; even Harvey hears of him and applauds his beautiful honesty. The Cardinals go on a road trip and Kevon is treated like a conquering hero. Kevon is suddenly the apple of Madison Avenue’s eye, doing every commercial in sight. Doug sulks.
Claudia feels Doug should still come out. But during the road-trip, somehow Harvey has met Kevon’s boyfriend, who felt betrayed that Kevon lied to him all that time. Harvey agreed; it’s one thing to be in the closet to the straight world, but for a gay to lie to another gay is unacceptable and grounds for immediate breakup. So, anyway, Harvey asks Doug, when can I move in? Doug tells him that it’s moving a little fast, but soon, maybe in a month. Harvey’s not happy, but other than that they’re having a fun time.
Kevon asks Doug to take a ride in his new Porsche, a gift from the company that just signed him to a new sponsorship contract. As they drive around, behind the tinted windows, Kevon asks Doug why he hasn’t come out yet. At first Doug denies it, then he’s furious with Kevon for coming out first and making Doug look like an also-ran. They make a few pitcher-catcher jokes. Kevon says he’s got a trade offer from the Dodgers and he’s considering it – LOT of good-looking men in L.A. Unless, of course, Doug wants to give Kevon a reason to stay…Doug pushes him away, yelling that he already has a boyfriend. Kevon wants to see said boyfriend. Doug says hell no. Kevon wants to know if the boyfriend knows what Doug does for a living. No. Kevon says he could make Doug’s life hell, but he won’t, he’ll just take his 2.93 ERA to the Dodgers and good luck Doug making it to the playoffs.
One day, Harvey arrives at Anheuser-Busch to surprise Doug with some flowers and chocolate. No one in sales, of course, has ever heard of Doug, until Claudia arrives from some conference room and tries to do damage control. Harvey is getting the picture, and he waits at Doug’s apartment, watching the Cardinals game on the local station. When Doug comes home, Harvey confronts him with the truth. Doug explains and begs forgiveness. Harvey wants him to come out to his team-mates, but Doug says that with Kevon gone, the homophobic tide in the locker room is now at an all-time high. Doug says that with his .250 batting average, he’s not indispensable; he might be tossed from the team, and tossed from the MLB, and all these pretty furnishings go on layaway. Harvey says he won’t be anyone’s secret, and good-bye forever. Doug is broken-hearted, and he and Claudia talk. She offers to look for someone else, but Doug doesn’t want that.
The Dodgers come to town, and Kevon is pitching. During Doug’s first at-bat, Kevon throws balls right at Doug, putting Doug on base. Kevon doesn’t do that to the other players. Doug’s next at-bat, Kevon throws a 100-mph pitch that misses Doug’s head by an inch. Doug yells “WHAT THE F— do you think you’re doing?” Doug’s team-mates yell “Stop it fag!” to Kevon. Kevon almost pitches Doug’s head off again, and Doug throws down his bat and charges the mound. Both teams are out of the dugouts almost instantly. The Cardinals are yelling “You’re all fags!” and the Dodgers are yelling “You’re all homophobes!” Doug is next to Kevon: “Why are you doing this?!” A Cardinal punches Devon in the face; as he goes down he yells at Doug: “Why do you think?!” Doug stands up and yells to the melee: “Stop it! I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay, okay?!” They all do stop. The umpires clear the field.
After the game, the team owner (Baranski type) calls everyone in for a meeting. She says this is ridiculous, and she announces that she’s firing one of the players for not being a team player. To Doug’s shock, it’s not him, instead it’s the lead bully. Some of the players applaud. The bully says a team that wants a good power hitter will snatch him right up, good riddance. The owner says anyone want to go with him? No one moves. The owner says no more homophobia. They’re joining the 21st century, like it or not. Most of them seem to like it. They applaud Doug.
Days pass and Doug is on a hitting streak. Claudia texts: feels good to be yourself, doesn’t it? Doug is shocked by a text from Harvey. They meet for coffee. Doug says again, sorry about lying. Harvey says, mm-hmm. Doug says he’s on an unbelievable .400-in-last-10-games hitting streak. Harvey says, well, you know I wouldn’t know about that. Doug says really? Harvey says, well I guess I’m the liar now. Of course, Harvey admits, I’ve been following you (Doug) religiously. Doug reveals that it’s not just the coming-out. A few days before the Dodgers arrived, Doug decided to take Harvey’s longstanding advice and stop taking PEDs. He still wants to grow old with Harvey, if Harvey will have him. Yes, Harvey says. They make up, make out, and move in together.
The final scene is at Busch stadium as Doug appears at the plate for his final at-bat of the season. It’s the ninth inning and they’re 8 runs behind the Mets. Harvey and Claudia and Claudia’s new boyfriend are watching from near the dugout, applauding Doug. Doug’s batting average (on the Jumbotron) is .333. Claudia says to Harvey too bad the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs. Harvey says he likes their prospects for next year. Doug hits a home run (no one on base). The stadium erupts in applause. After Doug rounds the bases, high-fives his team-mates and returns to the dugout, the crowd demands a curtain-call. Doug comes out and tips his cap. His eyes are a little wet. Harvey is crying. The crowd is still in full throat as we…