49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 2, 2013
Culliver acquaintance filmed iconic gay-rights film


Andrew Brown is a San Francisco resident who in 1976 helped direct a documentary called "Word Is Out," which features interviews with 26 gay men and women across the country. The film has since become iconic of the gay rights movement of the 1970s.

Brown also is related to Chris Culliver, whom he met for the first time last year after the 49ers drafted the cornerback in the third round.

Brown today said he hadn't spoken to Culliver since his controversial remarks about gays in the locker room on Tuesday. But he has been in contact with Culliver's mother and step grandmother and, after the Super Bowl, plans to meet with Culliver, who has pledged to learn more about the gay and lesbian community.

"I'm very sympathetic to him," Brown said in a telephone interview. "He's like so many young black men who have this identity problem, is what I call it. But I think it's a great opportunity. And that's what I told his family."

Brown said Culliver's step grandmother is his cousin and that Culliver's family got in contact with him when the 49ers drafted Culliver last April because Brown lived in San Francisco. He noted that Culliver is only 24 and that he, Brown, didn't come out until he was 28.


At that time, he moved from Philadelphia, where Culliver was born, to San Francisco and began working on the film, which was pioneering at the time and which showed that gays were normal people - there are interviews with students, businessmen, housewives, etc. - and not the deviants portrayed in the media to that point. Brown was one of six directors.

Brown, 65, remained in San Francisco, got a PhD in psychology and now works with geriatric and mental health patients for a family service agency. "I'm an old hippy," he said with a laugh.

He said he saw Culliver's remarks as a valuable learning experience but noted that no one can be forced to change their opinions. He said it takes time and experience. "We all make mistakes," Brown said. "It's not the mistakes but how you address them."

Culliver was apologetic during a 40-minute session with reporters on Thursday and pledged to learn more about the LGBT community, which is prominent in San Francisco. As part of that promise, Culliver's publicist said the cornerback will become involved with The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people, ages 13-24.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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