Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives. 1977. USA. Directed by the Mariposa Film Group. 35mm. 133 min.
The Mariposa Film Group, a democratic collective of directors who formed under producer Peter Adair’s guidance, consisted of Adair and his sister Nancy, Andrew Brown, Rob Epstein, Lucy Massie Phenix, and Veronica Selver. Together these filmmakers assembled one of the greatest collections of queer oral history on record before the AIDS crisis. The interviews span a thoughtful range of prominent queer activists and thinkers, with highlights including Elsa Gidlow, the founder of boho community Druid Heights; Dennis Chiu describing what it was like to be sneered at growing up as both queer and Chinese; a tender monologue from experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky; and an extraordinary moment with Betty (now Achebe) Powell, who voices concern about being the only black lesbian participating in the documentary. The candor of Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives has acquired a bittersweet aftertaste in the years since the AIDS crisis, but the passionate, heroic stories of its interviewees remain optimistically lucent. 35mm print courtesy of Milestone Films.