I first saw Word Is Out in 1981; I was a high school senior in small-town Essex Junction, Vermont, and was dating a Harvard freshman who was active in the gay student organization there. Word Is Out was one of the featured films at their annual G/L pride week.
The film had an incredible impact on me -- it was my first exposure to the diversity of our community, after having had the 'I'm the only one' feeling for so many years. It helped me realize I could be who I felt I was and did not have to be constrained by any one stereotype. Later, in my travels, I came across the Word Is Out book in a used bookstore, and snapped it up. Each portrait brought back memories of being seventeen years old and the expansive awe I had first felt when watching the film.
Zoom forward almost twenty years. I'm still living in Vermont and become friends with a local guy, Freddy, who, after one confusing connecting-the-dots conversation years into our friendship, I discover is Freddy from the film! 'I have a book with you in it!'
We recently celebrated his 60th birthday, at which I put up copies of his portrait from the book. I joke with him that I met him twenty years before he met me.
Jay Schuster, firstname.lastname@example.org