The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
February 2018


Early in this film, author Armistead Maupin asserts that he is not a gay writer, but rather a writer who is gay. But it’s quickly evident from the film that his personal story encompasses many of the plot arcs of the larger story of LGBT+ people in San Francisco and beyond.

The AIDS crisis, hepatitis, friendships with straight women, open relationships, coming out, chosen families, censorship, San Francisco as promised land: all of these topics appear in the film. To its credit, the film explores these issues as parts of Maupin’s story, rather than trying to generalize them to all gay men. Yet, also to its credit, the film allows space for Maupin’s friends and acquaintances to voice their own stories, as when fellow author Kate Bornstein explains her objections to Maupin’s outing actors Rock Hudson and Lily Tomlin.

Untold Tales is, in fact, a frustratingly difficult film to summarize, because rather than following a definite plot, it is like a day-long visit with a new friend, learning about his life and the people therein. Happily, it is a consistently interesting one, and one that demonstrates the humanity underlying those aforementioned social issues.

It is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.