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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

All I knew of homosexuality was "faggot"

I was reading about Peter Adair on Wikpedia of all places and then realized; "Hey! I saw that thing on Public TV - on an antennae TV - as a kid and it profoundly influenced my interactions with gay people."
I am not gay but when I saw that show I remember being very intrigued with the subject.

I was raised in a very macho military culture and all I knew of homosexuality was "faggot" "queer" to the point that as a small child I had thoughts that all faggots should be killed. That show pretty much altered that thought process immediately. I think I was open to it but needed to see it in order to explore my own individuality and embrace my quirks and accept and embrace the quirks of others.

I had forgotten how influential that show had been on me. It's a great movie that should be required viewing. Young gay people are dying in droves because they are so ostracized by the people they grew up loving. Maybe if their families saw Word is Out
I support your project and only wish you could reach those young people in crisis. I just read a piece online where a young girl was outed as bisexual and was rejected by her family and then she killed herself. This is devastating to me that something so harmless as individual sexuality carries such weight.

Robert, rtpappas@yahoo.com

Furtive Glances

I remember sneaking furtive glances of this as a kid, trying to have the TV volume loud enough to be "normal" (to avoid the "hey, waddya doin' theah?" shout through the wall), but not too loud ("what the hell ah ye watchin'?")

I wasn't thinking "this is me", but I felt drawn to it...even as it scared the shite out of me. I was 13.

John P Egan, Vancouver BC