History comes with a generation gap: those who lived it, and those who came after.

The movie “After Louie,” starring out actor Alan Cumming and debuting in Atlanta at the Out On Film festival on Oct. 1, provides a vehicle to examine that division.

“To see both sides of that argument presented, that was what I was really excited about doing the film for,” Cumming told Georgia Voice.

Cumming’s character, Sam, is an AIDS activist and member of ACT UP who saw the death of friends and loved ones during the 1980s and ‘90s. He’s unsure how to deal with the younger generation and their seeming complacency about how the LGBT community got to where it is today, until a member of the new generation challenges his perceptions.

“’After Louie,’ it’s a story about a man who’s kind of trapped in the past and kind of angry about young people who didn’t go through the AIDS crisis, and the younger guy who feels rightly so, that he wasn’t part of the war; he’ll never be part of the war,” Cumming said. “It’s interesting, the two sides of a story, and both sides I understood. I know people who are very smug about the past and exclude young people from it. I also know young people who don’t have an interest in their legacy and the past and who went before them.”

Sex, sexuality and a ‘70s tennis match

Playing an out, gay activist was strikingly different than the other role audiences can see Cumming take onscreen this summer. He also portrays Ted Tinling, the late tennis player, fashion designer and British spy in “Battle of the Sexes.”

“It’s kind of that funny thing that everybody knew that [Tinling] was gay, but he couldn’t really be open about it. I kind of find that whole thing fascinating, that you don’t actually say something even though you all understand it. The silence of it: you’re not heard, you’re not seen and in plain sight.”

“Battle of the Sexes” is set in the 1970s during the famed tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

In addition to silence about Tinling’s sexuality, “Battle of the Sexes” includes sexist rhetoric as well as anti-LGBT sentiment toward’s King’s same-sex relationship. Cumming said it was amazing to see how the movie verified “that men liked to say those things and women didn’t think to complain.” He said King didn’t watch the recording of the match for 25 years, and when she did, she became furious hearing how the announcers spoke about women’s sports at the time.

“I hope that people are reminded of what an incredible woman Billie Jean is and how much she changed our society, really,” Cumming said. “If she’d lost that match, the women’s movement would have been set back hugely, and so she’s really entangled to where women are today.”

And despite the progress, Cumming said there’s still a long way to go, “especially now with Trump in power.”

“You’re seeing attacks against women, attacks against LGBT people’s rights. We have to be vigilant and we have to keep eroding the layers and layers of sexism and homophobia that still exist,” he said.

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