About this book
A Queer Film Classic on the groundbreaking 1977 documentary that profiles the lives of ordinary gay men and lesbians of different ages, races, and backgrounds. Word Is Out found a wide audience theatrically and, perhaps more importantly, had a national public-television broadcast. The film provided an intimate portrait of gay men and lesbians, and by doing so, it played a significant role in the then-nascent struggle for gay rights. It premiered six months after Anita Bryant’s infamous "Save Our Children" campaign led to the repeal of a gay rights ordinance in Florida, and just as other antigay activists were beginning to copy her tactics elsewhere in the US. With its affable portrait of twenty-six gay men and women, Word Is Out offered an important counterpoint to the homophobic rhetoric that Bryant and others were spreading.
Greg Youmans examines the historical, political, and aesthetic significance of this important film, situating it firmly in its late-1970s context. He also delves beneath the film's surface to explore the backstory of its making, from the complicated relationships among its six filmmakers (three men, three women) to the more than 140 video pre-interviews they conducted in their search for the perfect cast.
Arsenal's Queer Film Classics series cover some of the most important and influential films about and by LGBTQ people.
Greg Youmans’ exploration of the book is serious and playful; full of queer history and film criticism.
Youmans’ monograph is a work that is filled with richness and contradiction, elements that fill our daily lives.
Senses of Cinema
[Youmans] sidesteps conventional narrative and is able to leap between ideas in much the same way as the film does, enabling him to draw the reader into a many-layered story almost without them noticing.
Eye for Film
Through its reading of this single film, the book advances a compelling and original frame for understanding the political transformations of the
late 1970s—showing, quite brilliantly, how movement politics and film aesthetics were inextricably linked … Youmans is consistently
interesting, whether discussing the political significance of the zoom technique in Word Is Out
, or relaying an anecdote about one of the 140 video pre-interviews whose subjects did not end up making the final cut. That Youmans gives as much attention to this lost material as he does to the end result is in keeping with his argument that the film’s exclusions reveal the defining limits of gay liberalism—and thus the ambiguous
heritage of our queer present.