Friday, February 05, 2010

'Word' to Your Mother

Last night, Michael and I were fortunate enough to catch the Anthology Film Archives' final screening of "Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives," the landmark 1977 documentary that featured no-frills interviews with 26 gay men and lesbians about their life experiences. If "The Times of Harvey Milk" captured the sense of urgency and hope that the larger-than-life Harvey Milk inspired in the late '70s (a friend who lived in the Bay Area at the time said that people who only know about Harvey from history often compare him to MLK, but that he was, in fact, much more like RFK in how he instilled in people the belief that things might turn out all right after all), "Word Is Out" is almost more compelling in its frank depiction of ordinary gay men and women, many of whom living in rural areas. (Who knew that everyone did not actually Go West?) 

And when you see and hear about the prevalence of gay men and lesbians who have been institutionalized and treated with shock treatment, it's was a stark reminder that the American Psychiatric Association only declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in my lifetime. Equally eye-opening is hearing a gay person already dreading the assimilation that had taken place by the late '70s, while another woman makes an argument for same-sex marriage that sounds like it could be testimony in the Prop 8 trial going on now in San Francisco. I was heartened to hear that a 45-minute version of the film was shown in schools back in the day, and now that the fully restored film is coming out on DVD, I definitely think it should be "required" viewing for all LGBTers moving forward. Trust me when I say you'll really love it. Complete details HERE.


1 comment:

Jim Edwards said...

I was lucky enough to see this too. A friend suggested going as I knew nothing about it. Wow. How so many of them had been married to people of the opposite sex and then go through the process of coming out let alone being institutionalized and going through shock therapy was amazing. And that one lesbian's take on marriage back in 1977 was so was so ahead of her time. Where is she now?