400 Years of Gay and Lesbian History in America

PBS Online visitors can explore and discuss gay and lesbian history in America at www.pbs.org/outofthepast.

The Out of the Past Web site features an interactive time-line of gay and lesbian history in America and is the online companion to Jeff Dupre's award- winning documentary film Out of the Past which airs on PBS stations nationwide starting Wednesday, Oct. 15. (Check local listings for time and station.)

Written and edited by Out of the Past co-producer Eliza Byard, the Web site is arranged chronologically and features over 90 different stories spanning nearly 400 years of American history. Like the film, the Web site uncovers stories that have been hidden from history and explores how the construction of history informs both individual and national identity.

The Out of the Past Web site presents the film's themes as topics for discussion and prompts visitors to relate their own "histories" to those featured on the site. For example, in the "Facing Fear" section, visitors learn that the Red Scare paranoia of the 1950s threatened the careers of gays and lesbians in the US government. Visitors are asked, "Have you, or has anyone you know, ever lost a job because of being gay or lesbian?" Once submitted, visitors' answers appear in a bulletin board discussion area, where others can reply or add their own stories.

The Out of the Past Web site also encourages students, teachers and the general public to explore gay and lesbian history on their own. All historical entries on the Web site link to a source list of reference works, historical studies, original documents and films, many of which are available online, or in libraries and stores nationwide. In addition, a "Resources" section contains links to gay and lesbian organizations, and to other Web sites relevant to gay and lesbian history studies.


Out of the Past premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 1998, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Zeitgeist Pictures (www.zeitgeistfilm.com) has released Out of the Past in commercial movie theaters in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. By the end of the year, the film will have screened in more than 35 cities in the United States and abroad. Unapix Films will begin releasing the film on home video in September, 1998. The film airs on PBS stations nationwide, Oct. 15, 1998.

This fall the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network (GLSEN), a not-for- profit organization working to end homophobia in schools, will distribute Out of the Past to high schools across the United States.

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