A mere half-century ago, homosexuals in the United States generally lived secret, shadowy lives. Homosexuality was officially classified as a mental disorder; homosexual acts were illegal in 49 out of 50 states.
If someone had said, “Fifty years from now, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer people will be reciting marriage vows, serving on PTAs, wielding gavels at corporate board meetings, gracing the covers of national magazines, commanding platoons of soldiers in Afghanistan, and hosting the Academy Awards”, no one would have believed it. Yet it’s true.
The events and changes that have occurred over the past half-century for LGBTQ people are nothing short of remarkable. At the same time, our stories are at risk of being lost; our pioneers and elders are passing away at an alarming rate. Now is the time for OUTWORDS: a national archive of in-depth, on-camera interviews with both well known and ‘regular’ LGBTQ Americans — each person providing the unique, personal story of what he or she has witnessed and experienced, over decades of extraordinary challenge and change for America’s LGBTQ community. By recording and appreciating our journey, we can help guarantee that the lessons of our past are not lost to future generations.
Produced by veteran documentary filmmakers, archivists, and historians, and modeled after the USC Shoah Foundation’s interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses, and The History Makers, an interview archive of the African-American experience of the past century, OUTWORDS will include interviews with early activists who bravely sowed the first seeds of change, high-profile contemporary figures, and LGBTQ visionaries of the next generation. Non-gay allies who had a major impact on our evolution will also be interviewed. OUTWORDS will capture the stories of known figures and headliners, as well as a broad mix of unacclaimed individuals who fomented change through countless small acts – whether standing up to ridicule and physical violence, coming out to their families, fighting back against AIDS, attending a same-sex prom, forging a relationship between their sexuality and their spirituality, or marching in a Pride parade.