Word Is Out (Peter Adair, 1977)


Word Is Out must have been incomprehensibly radical for its time. It is hard to fathom just how intense the stigma attached to homosexuality must have been in the Western world merely a few decades ago. And despite the much more liberal times we now live in (and should cherish), this film still speaks volumes today as a portrait of homosexuality as the most natural, inoffensive human phenomenon that has ever caused such a stir.

The people portrayed in this documentary come in all shapes and sizes: gay men and lesbians that are old and young, eccentric and ‘average,’ black and white, fat and thin. The drag queen might be spottable from a mile away, but the guys who look like your granddad would easily go undetected. Despite their wildly differing appearances, their message is unifyingly simple: all of them were condemned for being who they were, and most experienced attempts at being ‘cured.’ But none of them regret nor apologise for who they are, feeling naturally happier and more intimate around people of the same sex.

I’d say that at two hours in length this is thirty minutes too long, but it is nevertheless quite remarkable how the simplest of interviewing and filmmaking techniques – pointing a camera at real people and listening to them talk – remains this incredibly interesting, touching and largely watchable throughout.

To any homophobes still out there, Word Is Out could serve  to this day as your much needed wake-up call. This films shows better than almost any how well the medium is suited to educating and converting people in the right way: to be much more enlightened, in their possession of humane sentiments and adoption of accepting attitudes.

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