Monday, December 8, 2008

GEN SILENT NOTES: Sheri and Lois

Sheri and Lois:
Married couple aging together in Boston, MA's South End.

Community oriented

This was a fascinating interview. As much as the gay history that Lois and Sheri shared it was the shock and anger we ALL felt as they reminisced. Some of the personal stories they shared on camera for my current documentary Gen Silent included:
  • A Boston magazine that published the names of suspected homosexuals in the 1950's
  • FBI agents following them at the rallies they organized in the late 1960's (they took pictures)
  • Friends who were mothers still losing custody of their children because they were lesbian as late as the 1970's

Just as fascinating is their life today. Lois is a real estate broker. Sheri continues to run a bed & breakfast out of their beautifully restored home. It is a treasure that they have spent a good deal of their lives restoring.

The home of Sheri and Lois in Boston's South End

But both women are very aware that life is changing for them. And life has always been changing for Sheri and Lois. This film hopes to show just how much change their generation has gone through- from being beaten for who they are to now being openly married.

Experts who I have interviewed say that all this change taught many LGBT people to adapt very well and the more you can adapt, the better your later years will be. Lois unexpectedly revealed a side of her adaptability. She has obviously considered the possibility of being in a nursing home someday with an abusive caregiver who discriminates against her because she is gay. A situation that our gay elders are reporting more often. "I have been open for many years but I would hide again if necessary to survive."
Even more common is the fear of abuse from other straight elders.
They spoke of an acquaintance who was shunted to a nursing home, became more closeted because its unwelcoming surroundings. He withdrew and died a short time later. The details of what happened to this man seems to be a bit of a mystery in Boston's LGBT elder community. I'll be asking around.

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