The OUTWORDS Story

The concept for OUTWORDS was born in June 2014. Lying awake in the middle of the night, OUTWORDS founder Mason Funk was thinking back on his own journey – from terrified gay teenager in the 1970s, to a grown man with loving friends and family, an enjoyable career, and his legally married husband asleep next to him.
He wondered, “How did I and millions of other queer people get from there, to here?”

To answer this question, Mason decided to travel the United States and interview as many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) elders and pioneers as he could find – to record and preserve their stories, and share their experiences and wisdom with the world.

Mason knew that, even today, LGBTQ youth need role models. They need to know their own history. They need to understand how bad things once were for queer people, so they’ll never take their own rights and privileges for granted. And they need a ‘playbook’ of strategies their elders used to alter society’s perceptions of queer people, so they can continue fighting for greater visibility, acceptance, and protection.

This was the birth of OUTWORDS.

In November 2015, Mason made a video introducing OUTWORDS to the world. Donations ranging from $20 to $10,000 flowed in. Harper Collins offered a contract to publish an OUTWORDS coffee table book. In the summer of 2016, Mason hit the road, recording the first 44 OUTWORDS interviews all over America. In 2017, Mason began sharing his footage online and in person. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Clearly, the demand for these informative, inspirational stories is strong. The goal for 2017 is to record another 130 interviews, on the way to 500 by the end of 2019.

At present, OUTWORDS is under the fiscal sponsorship of the International Documentary Association (IDA), enabling us to accept tax-deductible contributions. In 2017, we will incorporate as a standalone non-profit entity. We have begun exploring and forming relationships with many national LGBTQ organizations, as well as foundations and corporations that will help OUTWORDS to fulfill its mission. We have built a strong national Leadership Council, and are in the process of forming our founding Board of Directors.

OUTWORDS invites your suggestions for important LGBTQ Americans to interview. We welcome volunteers in a variety of capacities. And we gratefully accept financialcontributions in any amount. Please make a donation today – and become part of OUTWORDS.