Word Is Out

Word Is Out

Peter Adair


»So I asked what was a lesbian, and everybody laughed. ›That‘s a girl who likes other girls instead of boys‹, and I thought ›uh-oh, that sounds like me.‹«
– Whitey Fladden

Word Is Out was premiered in 1977 in San Francisco and was the first film to create a self image that countered the media image of homosexuals in the USA. In many interviews, told in parallel and assembled as a mosaic, 26 gays and lesbians talk about their experiences of love, the loss of love, their own coming out and the struggle against prejudice and discriminatory laws. Those interviewed are between 18 and 77-years old and come from all kinds of social milieus. Housewife, drag queen, poetess, political activist, inventor, civil rights activist and avant-garde film director – all have their say. Their stories are a piece of oral history and present a collective portrait of the gay-lesbian movement in the USA 30 years ago.
The making of the film was heavily influenced by a collective approach. Under the name of Mariposa Film Group, Peter Adair, Veronica Selver, Andrew Brown, Lucy Massie Phenix, Nancy Adair and Rob Epstein conducted interviews that they subsequently evaluated, discussed and edited in a lengthy process. The simultaneous narrative style of individual plot strands was considered at the end of the 1970s to be a new and radical film aesthetic. The current 35mm copy was a result of the UCLAs Outfest Legacy Project.

Film Programme If You Don’t Fight Back

Directors / Cinematography / Montage / Sound

Mariposa Film Group: Peter Adair, Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown, Rob Epstein, Lucy Massie Phenix, Veronica Selver


Trish Nugent, Buena Vista


Peter Adair


Milestone Film & Video / Millarium Zero

Peter Adair

Between 1975 and 1977, Peter Adair and his sister Nancy worked together with members of the Mariposa Film Group on Word Is Out. It was his idea to make this film, and at the same time it was part of his own coming out. In 1984, he was a consultant and additional cinematographer in Rob Epstein’s film about American civil rights activist Harvey Milk. In the same year, he produced a series of educational videos for the Read Adult Literacy project of the San Francisco Public Library. With The AIDS Show: Artists Involved in Death and Survival in 1986, he focused very early on, together with Rob Epstein, on the effects of AIDS on the art scene. When he himself contracted AIDS, he wrote and produced the film Absolutely Positive. Peter Adair died 1996 in San Francisco at the age of 52.

Films by Peter Adair
Absolutely Positive 1986 | The AIDS Show: Artists Involved in Death and Survival 1986 | Stopping History 1983 | Holy Ghost People 1967