More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay or lesbian. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which for some meant marriage), coming out, establishing adult identities, and reflecting on how things have changed and how things should be. Some speak as couples and some as individuals. One lost her children in a custody decision, one was dishonorably discharged from the US Army, two were sent to insane asylums. Each sees social progress as he or she looks back; all are reflective. News footage and a few vocal performances provide breaks as topics shift.
Word Is Out (1977) was directed by Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown, and Rob Epstein. This film is an outstanding documentary about the lives and experiences of LGBT people, who look back on their past and look ahead to their future. The directors chose to show us interviews with about two dozen „ordinary” people, all of whose lives were greatly affected by their sexual orientation.
The film was made less than ten years after the Stonewall Rebellion, and equal rights for the lesbian and gay community appeared then to be moving forward in a linear fashion. This belief in progress to come gave the film a hopeful quality. The movie also has a poignant quality, because so many of the people interviewed had suffered terrible discrimination, especially those who had been in the military.
Now, over 30 years later, we know that LGBT rights have moved ahead at a two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace, and almost all LGBT people are still facing discrimination, especially, of course, in the military.
Word is Out can stand on its own as an excellent documentary. If you care about the rights of LGBT people, it’s a must-see film.