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'Before You Know It': To Be Gay, Over 55 and Very Much Alive


Society & Culture  (tags: activists, americans, culture, ethics, family, freedoms, gayrights, interesting, law, rights, sadness, safety, society, politics, usa )

JL
- 641 days ago - takepart.com
Often outside a traditional family structure, a senior generation of gay men and women is creating its own support system, and starring in a new documentary



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JL A. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:37 pm

‘Before You Know It’: To Be Gay, Over 55 and Very Much Alive
Often outside a traditional family structure, a senior generation of gay men and women is creating its own support system, and starring in a new documentary.
By Stephen Saito
March 13, 2013
Comment
men and women march in a parade with a banner for SAGE

Although the current generation of gay seniors still faces inequality when it comes to healthcare, organizations such as SAGE in New York are leading the way to providing services. (Photo: Mike Simpson/Untitled Films)

At the end of Before You Know It, a documentary that premiered this week at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, a title card dedicates the film to the estimated 2.4 million gay, lesbian, straight and transgendered seniors over the age of 55, a number that its director suspects isn’t accurate.

“To be honest, those statistics are just for those who are self-identified and out, right?” director PJ Raval tells TakePart. “There’s probably a number of those that are still closeted [and] if they had the proper support system, would include themselves in that number.”



Raval uncovered a raft of disturbing statistics while working on Before You Know It, which follows three gay seniors in different parts of the U.S. as they respond in different ways to growing old after being part of a generation that bore a brunt of intolerance and hatred so future generations would have less homophobia to endure.

"“The seniors that I’m looking at, the generation that they’ve grown up in, they’ve seen so much change in such a short amount of time, I started thinking these are stories that need to be captured now, and it’s not even so much about the past; it’s about the present.”"

Raval discovered that LGBT seniors, with families that have disowned them in many cases and marginalized by society at large, are half as likely to have health insurance coverage and five times less likely to access social services than seniors who are straight.

The film’s subjects put a human face to those numbers, showing a spectrum of experience in their stories. Dennis, a one-time racquetball champion, lives a quiet life at the LGBT retirement community of Rainbow Vista in Portland, Oregon. Robert is the vivacious owner of the oldest gay bar in Texas (located in Galveston). Ty is an outreach director for SAGE, a New York-based organization that provides services and advocates for LGBT senior citizens.

“The seniors that I’m looking at, the generation that they’ve grown up in, they’ve seen so much change in such a short amount of time,” says Raval, who was inspired to make the film by visiting a gay community center full of seniors and teaching a queer youth filmmaking class. The director realized that both age groups could inform one another. “I started thinking these are stories that need to be captured now, and it’s not even so much about the past; it’s about the present.”

To that end, Raval hopes that equal support is given to the senior LGBT population as is available for youth who are just now discovering their sexual identity.
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“Aging doesn’t discriminate,” Raval says. “And it really is up to us as a community to make sure that we are supporting these senior communities. As Robert in my documentary states, ‘You never think about getting older when you’re younger, but before you know it, it creeps up on you, and you’re there already.’ ”

He pauses and smiles.

“Even the process of making this documentary, I’m four years older.”
 

Sue H. (7)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:40 pm
In deep appreciation for those who put this documentary together.
 

Terry V. (30)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:49 pm
Good news CONGRATULATIONS!!!
S L O W progress IS being made
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 6:10 pm

So true, both that so much has changed so fast, and that so much has not changed for so many. I doubt that many at Care2 over the age of about 50, can remember growing in the era when anyone not white, Christian and straight was treated horribly. I do hope that all of that is at last ending. If Ravel can gather enough stories they will stand (with hope) as a lasting testament to age of bigotry. Narratives like this inform, teach and last for generations. I am reminded of the WPR writers who provided us with the slave narratives, that even today have so much to offer us.
***
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time. Born in Slavery was made possible by a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 6:12 pm

Sorry - it is difficult to edit in these little boxes and I see some articles are missing.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 6:29 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Sue because you have done so within the last day.
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last day.
Thanks Kit for providing another documentation effort of past discrimination, bigotry and dehumanization.
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.

 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (280)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:11 pm
Great news about this Doco
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:09 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Rose because you have done so within the last day.
 

John B. (122)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:35 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post! Kudos to director PJ Raval, his staff, producers and the people in the documentary for getting this on the screen. Read and noted.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:51 pm
You are welcome John. They do deserve kudos. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last day.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday March 18, 2013, 11:34 am
Why would gay people suffer discrimination in health care Dont understand that seems preposterous


noted
 

JL A. (276)
Monday March 18, 2013, 4:54 pm
One way is because their partner is not allowed to visit or get information in some hospitals.
You cannot currently send a star to Carol because you have done so within the last day.
 

Robert O. (12)
Monday March 18, 2013, 10:04 pm
True. The years just fly right by. Like I always tell people, even though I'm 35 and have a lot of years ahead of me on the road of life (hopefully) I also have quite a few looking back at me in my rearview mirror. As far as the article goes, nobody should face discrmination or be subjected to subpar care or representation for any reason at all and certainly not for sexual idenity. Equality for all! Thanks JL.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (394)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 1:23 am
Thanks J.L. some good news, gays should not suffer discrimination in any aspect of life!
 

Ro H. (0)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:51 am
ty
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 9:23 am
You are welcome Robert, Giana and Ro.
You cannot currently send a star to Giana because you have done so within the last day.
 

Winn Adams (203)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 2:14 pm
All forms of discrimination against LGBT people must end and it should end today.
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:36 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Winn because you have done so within the last day.
 

Birgit W. (152)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:39 pm
Noted
 

Ann Fox (5)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 9:33 am
If you don't like gay marriage or don't think gays deserve the same rights...then blame straight people...they are the ones who keep having gay babies....
 

Ed G. (1)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 1:19 pm
I am gay and over 65 and found the article interesting. I am HIV Neg and have found senior help pretty much non existent unless you want to be past of the bar scene, then there are groups. I do not wish to be part of the bar scene.
 

Allan Yorkowitz (448)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 4:09 pm
Quentin Crisp was absolutely fabulous into his 80's.
 
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