There is no shortage of documentaries about pivotal figures in LGBTQ history, but one person who does not get enough attention is Ric Weiland, a queer pioneer in the tech industry.
Weiland was high school friends with Bill Gates. A brilliant coder in his own right, Weiland wound up being one of the first five employees of Microsoft, resulting in him becoming incredibly wealthy over the years. The new doc Yes I Am – The Ric Weiland Story shines a light on his life and legacy, including how he was one of the rare out-and-proud gay men back in the 1970s and ’80s.
Like many gay men in the ’80s, Weiland was diagnosed with HIV. He suffered from depression, which led to his death by suicide in 2006.
During his lifetime, Weiland donated more than $20 million to fund 60-plus nonprofit organizations. His efforts to establish representation and resources for the LGBTQ community, like investing in PlanetOut, still have a profound impact today.
“Ric was one of the pivotal people of our generation both in the information age and in the gay rights movement. He was right at the center, he was one of the architects,” says Weiland’s friend, Michael Failla, in the doc. “We wouldn’t live in the world that we live in today without the contribution that Ric made.”
Yes I Am – The Ric Weiland Story is directed by Aaron Bear and produced by World of Wonder. Out actor Zachary Quinto narrates, reading entries from Weiland’s personal journals. The film had its world premiere at the AmDocs Film Festival, and it will play at the Provincetown Film Festival which runs from June 16 – June 26. Until then, watch the trailer below.