Friday, September 7, 2007

A Daring Cinematic Breakthrough

I was serving as Executive Director of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in 1973 when Peter Adair called to make an appointment to see me. Someone had referred him to me as a person who might have some helpful contacts for his newest project. Peter had in mind a 20-minute video about gay and lesbian people that could be shown in schools as a way of countering negative stereotypes. He and I talked about his idea and the more we talked, the more the concept grew. I urged Peter to think about making a feature length documentary of interviews with people from all over the country. He worried about raising considerably more money than he had originally planned. I told him I thought the time was right for a daring cinematic breakthrough. It was, I thought, an idea that many people would get behind, with their contacts and their money. When Peter left the CRH office, I think he was pretty well convinced his idea for an "educational film" could be expanded and have a much broader impact, given the diversity of people in the gay and lesbian community.

After putting together the brilliant Mariposa Film Group, Peter completed a film that soared beyond all expectations, full of emotion and wisdom, laughter and tears. I received a one-sheet for the film, which I framed. It has given me pleasure for four decades and counting.

In 2006, I showed my VHS tape of Word Is Out as part of a documentary film series I programmed at my local church, a predominately LGBT United Church of Christ congregation. Only two other people present had ever seen the film. When the lights came up, eyes were teary and folks were clearly in awe of the accomplishment of the Mariposa Film Group so many years ago. I am thrilled that new audiences will get to see Word Is Out . I hope the new DVD will gain the widest possible distribution.

Thank you all so much for bringing Word Is Out back to life and to new generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgezander people, our families and friends.

Rev. Bill Johnson, Ed.D.,

Your Movie Changed My Life

I am thrilled to learn that you are releasing a 30th anniversary edition of Word Is Out , and I have sent a donation. Your movie changed my life. I had just graduated from a small college in Appalachia, still a virgin and struggling to come out. I drove four hours to Washington, DC--where no one would know me--to see the film. I can't begin to tell you how I felt as I watched it. I knew for the first time in my life that I was not alone. I remember as the lights came up, being afraid someone would see me crying. It was a long drive back to my hometown, but I finally knew who I was, and spent the next few months finding others like me--and being amazed that there were so many nearby. It became a joyful year of self-discovery.

Years later, when I was working at The American Film Institute in LA, I had the good fortune to meet Peter Adair and thank him. Recently I found an original poster for the movie, had it linen mounted and added to my collection of favorite movie posters.

I am very curious to know what became of those wonderful men and women featured in the film. They unwittingly became by heroes and role-models. I am sure I will be saddened by some of what I learn, but I hope your 30th anniversary DVD will shed some light on the future of those beautiful people.

I've been happily out for three decades and I have a very good life now with my partner of 23 years. It is not an overstatement to say that Word Is Out played a big part in my finding happiness.

Thank you to everyone involved in the creation of Word Is Out ... then and now.

Ron Geatz,