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Peter Adair (22 November 1943 – 27 June 1996) was a filmmaker and artist, best known for his pioneering documentary, Word Is Out.


Early life

Adair was born in Los Angeles County in 1943.


Adair entered the film industry in the 1960s and first gained critical attention with his 1967 documentary Holy Ghost People, a film record of a Pentecostal snake handler worship service in the Appalachians. From 1975 to 1977, he collaborated with his lesbian sister Nancy Adair and other members of the Mariposa Film Group to produce and direct Word Is Out. The film, the first of its kind to present gays and lesbians in a positive light, was a critical hit nationwide. Word Is Out inspired Nancy to collaborate with Casey Adair, Peter and Nancy's mother, on a companion book, published in 1978. Peter Adair always chose the subject matter for his film based on his current passions, and Word Is Out was as much a vital part of his own coming out process as it was an attempt to show gays and lesbians in a very human and non-sensational manner.

In 1983 Peter Adair produced Stopping History and in 1984 acted as consultant and did additional camerawork on The Times of Harvey Milk, directed by his former protégé Rob Epstein. That same year he worked with the Project Read adult literacy program of the San Francisco Public Library to produce a series of tutoring videos.

Late career

As he began to see his friends in the art and film communities succumb to the plague of AIDS, Adair co-directed, with Rob Esptein, The AIDS Show: Artists Involved in Death and Survival, one of the first films to examine AIDS' impact on the arts community, in 1986. When he became aware of his own HIV status, he wrote and directed Absolutely Positive, an examination of how asymptomatic HIV positive people live with uncertainty.

On 27 June 1996, Peter Adair finally succumbed to complications of AIDS at the age of 52 in San Francisco.

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