Thursday, September 25, 2008


After much soul-searching, I've decided to make my next documentary about LGBT seniors who were forced to hide when they were young- now forced back in the closet as they grow old.

They fear not getting adequate care and being judged by others at the very point they are most vulnerable.

Examples abound:
care workers quoting the bible to them when they are bed ridden.
straight seniors harassing them in the nursing homes where they live.

"The most common reaction, in a generation accustomed to being in the closet, is a retreat back to the invisibility that was necessary for most of their lives, when homosexuality was considered both a crime and a mental illness. A partner is identified as a brother. No pictures or gay-themed books are left around."1

I hope to show younger people just how necessary hiding was to survive when this most important generation was their age.
-the woman forced to eat her driver's license when police raided the gay bar she was in or LGBT -groups in the sixties spied on by the FBI are just two examples.

We will share these most hard to believe stories from these seniors themselves.

"Within this culture, lesbian and gay people concealed their sexual orientation. They feared physical and emotional abuse; rejection from family, friends, and religious communities; and job loss. Additionally, they faced harsh persecution, institutionalization, and incarceration. Many viewed themselves as abnormal and suffered shame and anguish over their same-sex attractions. Hiding the truth of their sexual orientation from themselves or others, many entered into heterosexual marriages despite the uncomfortable knowledge about themselves, and some had children. Others cautiously or recklessly sought same-sex relationships. Many entered or were forced into reparative psychotherapy to be cured of a “severe and pervasive emotional disorder” and to alter their sexual orientation." 2

The film will center around several LGBT seniors struggling to age successfully alone or with their partners.

"Elderly heterosexuals also suffer the indignities of old age, but not to the same extent. There is something special about having to hide this part of your identity at a time when your entire identity is threatened. That’s a faster pathway to depression, failure to thrive and even premature death," says, Dr. Melinda Lantz, chief of geriatric psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. 3

The film will conclude with a look at what a handful of agencies are doing to help.

I'm grateful to my close friend, Bob Linscott, at the LGBT Aging Project in Boston for patiently watching me come to the conclusion that this issue must be my next undertaking. I will be spending much time over the next few months in Boston and New York researching and shooting with the hopes of having a rough cut by Spring of 2009.

1,3 The New York Times October 9, 2007 Aging and Gay, and Facing Prejudice in Twilight

2 Invisible Individuals — LGBT Elders By Florence Gelo, DMin, NCPsyA
Aging Well Vol. 1 No. 3. P. 36