Thursday, September 2, 2010

From Santa Fe

Word Is Out was the first gay themed film I ever saw. When I was 11-years-old, the film was broadcast on PBS and my parents, who are both sociologists, watched it and I was strangely drawn to watch it with them. I remembered how the film had played earlier that year at the Orson Wells Cinema in Cambridge where I grew up and had never heard of a feature length film being made about "those people" before who intrigued me.

I was glued to the TV for two hours. My parents were fascinated by the exploration of race among the gay culture, two stigmas for these people as they saw it. However, I remember my mom thinking that the subject who was the actor wasn't as interesting because he was too queeny. Seeing the film 30 years later, I'm amazed at how much I remember these people's faces and even some of the their stories; the woman asking to share a pillow with another women whose house she slept over, the man kissing in a boat another boy when they were 7-years-old, the haunting song "Where you There?" performed in the film.

It's amazing how not dated the film is today, and that's what makes the experience almost tragic in watching it. Gay couples are still losing custody of their children. Families are still not accepting of their gay offspring. Gay couples in most states still can't get married. I was also moved by the filmmakers including themselves in the interviews of their subjects, even allowing themselves to be seen in a mirror in one interview.

I'm curious if the filmmakers ever thought of doing a follow-up to the film to see where the subjects are today and to record how far visibility has improved for gays and lesbians and how much it has also stayed the same. I'm so impressed by the importance of the work that the Legacy Project from Outfest is doing by watching this landmark piece of history.


Aaron Leventman, Santa Fe

Dear Aaron,

Yes, on the DVD release, there are several bonus features where the filmmakers have created new short films following up on the people in the film thirty years later as well as talking about the experiences themselves.

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