More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which ... See full summary »
More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which for some meant marriage), disclosing their sexuality, establishing adult identities, and reflecting on how things have changed and how things should be. Some speak as couples and some as singles. One lost her children in a custody decision, one was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army, two were sent to insane asylums. All see social progress as they reflect. News footage and a few vocal performances provide breaks as topics shift. Written by
Word Is Out (1977) was directed by Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown, and Rob Epstein. This film is an outstanding documentary about the lives and experiences of LGBT people, who look back on their past and look ahead to their future. The directors chose to show us interviews with about two dozen "ordinary" people, all of whose lives were greatly affected by their sexual orientation.
The film was made less than ten years after the Stonewall Rebellion, and equal rights for the lesbian and gay community appeared then to be moving forward in a linear fashion. This belief in progress to come gave the film a hopeful quality. The movie also has a poignant quality, because so many of the people interviewed had suffered terrible discrimination, especially those who had been in the military.
Now, over 30 years later, we know that LGBT rights have moved ahead at a two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace, and almost all LGBT people are still facing discrimination, especially, of course, in the military.
Word is Out can stand on its own as an excellent documentary. If you care about the rights of LGBT people, it's a must-see film.
We saw the movie at the Dryden Theatre, as part of the splendid ImageOut: Rochester Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. The festival had obtained a newly restored 35mm print. Word is Out will work well on DVD and, apparently, the DVD version of the restored film is now available. Be sure to find it and watch it--it's an excellent film.
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