Out of the Past traces the emergence of gay men and lesbians in American history through the eyes of a young woman coming to terms with herself and her place in the world. The hour-long film explores the critical link between knowledge of history and knowledge of self.
The film tells the story of Kelli Peterson, a teenager from Utah who founded a Gay-Straight Alliance at her high school in 1996. Her efforts provoked a statewide backlash as the school board and the state legislature attempted to keep the group from meeting.
Out of the Past uses Peterson's story to illuminate the history of gays and lesbians in America, highlighting some of the more universal aspects of that experience, and making otherwise remote historical material accessible and relevant to a general audience.
In the film, Peterson's private reflections and public struggle frame portraits of individuals spanning nearly 400 years of lesbian and gay history, from Puritan minister Michael Wigglesworth to gay liberation activist Barbara Gittings.
Out of the Past premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 1998, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Zeitgeist Pictures has since released the film in commercial movie theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The film has also appeared in more than 35 cities in the US and abroad. Video cassettes of Out of the Past are available from Unapix Films.
To order Out of the Past, one should call the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network:
For information about the Out of the Past Film Project, write to: