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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Wasn't Alone

It was either 1977 or 1978, and I was home alone. I would've been 16 or 17 at that point, and was living in Chicago with my parents, and was scared to death. Nothing felt right, and I had strange feelings, and I could NOT bring myself to get interested in playing with girls.

Flipping through channels (we only had about a half-dozen back then, in the pre-cable-TV days), I ran across Word Is Out just starting on Chicago's PBS station, WTTW.

I was so mesmerized I forgot to sit down for a good twenty minutes; I just kept standing there, watching the screen.

About halfway through Word Is Out , I started crying, because I realized I Wasn't Alone. There were other people in the world who Felt Like Me, and it was called Being Gay, and it wasn't A Terrible Thing. (Teenagers think a lot in Capital Letters.)

I think I cried for a good two hours, because after the first set of tears dried, and the documentary was over, I realized "OK, I'm gay. Now what?" and started crying again.

I won't go into the story here of how I ended up being outed to my parents (the local gay men's health clinic did it by accident) and moving to San Francisco.

I will say that if I hadn't seen Word Is Out when I did, it's not an exaggeration to say I probably would have ended up as another teenage suicide statistic.

Thank you for producing the film 30 years ago. I can't tell you enough how much it's touched my life, and changed me for the better.

Allan Hurst, allanhurst@gmail.com

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