Armistead Maupin’s own tale in a documentary

By David Lewis
May 31, 2017 Updated: June 2, 2017 11:28am

Armistead Maupin, one of the world’s foremost gay writers, hails from a genealogical literary tree that includes Marcel Proust, E.M. Forster and Christopher Isherwood. His “Tales of the City” novels, which began as a serialization in The Chronicle starting in the late 1970s, have inspired generations of LGBTQ folks. “Letter to Mama,” an episode from the serial, remains one of the most influential coming-out moments in the annals of fiction.

The longtime San Francisco resident and groundbreaking author is the subject of the new documentary “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” which will open this year’s Frameline Film Festival:

Q: How will you feel about seeing the film at the Castro Theatre?

A: Wonderful. Some of the most exciting film-going nights of my life have been there. It was where I first read “Letter to Mama,” two days before it was published in 1977. Cleve Jones and Harvey Milk were in the crowd. I thought the roof was going to come down, because everyone in the room was feeling it.

Q: If you could write another letter home, what would you say?

A: Supporting a gay child is not compatible with voting for a homophobic politician. When you say, “It’s my politics, but I still love you,” I don’t believe that. You are no friend of mine, or a family member of mine, either.

Q: This has been a big year for you.

A: A lot of chickens have come home to roost: the movie, my memoir (“Logical Family,” HarperCollins, due Oct. 3) — and something else I can’t tell you about. I’ve been very blessed.

Q: Was it difficult sharing your life for this film?

A: It helped tremendously that I had seen (director) Jennifer Kroot’s documentary on George Takei (“To Be Takei”). It had a light touch, yet dealt with serious issues. That’s very compatible with what I’ve done over the years. I couldn’t be more grateful to Jennifer and (co-director) Bill Weber. They’re wonderful — and now they’re friends of mine.

— David Lewis

“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” screens at 7 p.m., June 15, at the Castro Theatre.

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