I was so pleased when I coined the quote about Gen Silent: “This film is critically important to our movement…it may be this generation’s ‘Word Is Out,’ marking the first public revelation of LGBT aging.” Unfortunately, the young reporter didn’t do what I intended and look up “Word Is Out,” instead dropping the quote altogether.
It is out of such moments, such minor decisions, that our LGBT history is lost. Gen Silent taught me other ones. As I told the reporter, “I’ve been working on LGBT aging issues for 37 years, and there were facts in this documentary that I’d never known.” One of those was the origin of what I thought was the “camp” practice of calling gay men by women’s names. It wasn’t camp; it was closet. Giving your partner a female name made it far easier to talk with others about daily things, simply and consistently implying that the person you did them with was your friend “Mary.” Another one: Lawrence and his partner of decades never signed their Christmas cards with their last names…just in case. It was a shocking detail, that tiny data point: to have to be that careful even with people close enough to be on your Christmas card list; it took my breath away.
There are many more reasons to see Gen Silent, and bring everyone you can think of, if you’ve not seen it already. As I also told that reporter, this documentary introduces us to real people who get under our skin, who make us laugh, and who move us to tears. It’s unforgettable. You can find out more at http://www.gensilent.com/. While you’re there, be sure to vote for it in the Gotham Independent Film Awards; if it wins, the publicity it will get will help this critical film reach a much wider audience.