For Coming Out Day 2013, Ebony magazine published a profile of Ty Martin, a 65-year-old Black gay man who serves as SAGE’s Harlem Community Liaison.
Ty is also one of three older LGBT people featured in the new documentary, Before You Know It, which is currently raising funds for distribution (see http://beforeyouknowitfilm.com/). In the Ebony profile, he talks about how Harlem has changed for LGBT people, and then concludes,
“I wish I could say something profound about being Black, gay and a senior in Harlem but my story is pretty much the same as anyone else. We all want to be connected to somebody.
“Why do you think churches are full on Sunday? People want to find some connection. Or else, why do they go? I think it’s the same reason why clubs are packed on Saturday. [Laughs.]
“At the end of the day everyone wants someone to talk to and feel connected to.”
The full article is available at http://www.ebony.com/news-views/national-coming-out-day-a-seniors-story-304#axzz2hQy611wH
Before You Know It is a new film depicting three gay men, one in his 60s, the other two in their 70s.
The American Prospect reviewed the film’s debut at the SXSW festival (see http://prospect.org/article/you-know-it-change-happens) and concluded:
“The film serves as a particular tribute to a generation of gay men who grew up in post-World War II America, when the traditional nuclear family was at its height — and who then, as the sexual revolution reached its peak, were confronted with HIV/AIDS. At one point, Ty holds up a picture of his group 30 years prior. He points to each one who’s since died. Robert’s nephew, who’s also gay, describes his family’s horrified response to his uncle’s sexuality, while others at the bar [LaFitte’s] talk about having had no one except their friends at LaFitte’s. The stories, just a few decades old, lend a new profundity to the current moment for gay rights. We see Ty celebrate marriage equality in New York. Dennis participates in his first Pride parade, dressed as Dee. Robert feels too ill to join in the Mardi Gras celebrations his performers put on. But from his porch, he can see them in the parade — a notable move forward that he helped to create.”
Details on the film are available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2473762/; reviews and commentary by the producer are available at https://www.facebook.com/beforeyouknowitfilm
In time for December 1st’s World AIDS Day, the first-ever clinical treatment strategies for managing older people with HIV were issued. Continue reading
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.
Want to support a key resource-in-development? Consider the Untitled Black Lesbian Elder Project, a documentary being produced by filmmaker Tiona McClodden and Lisa C. Moore, publisher of Red Bone Press. It will feature Black lesbians in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.
If you live in New York City, consider attending some of their fundraisers. If you don’t live in NYC, consider making other types of contributions. You can read more about this project at http://ubleproject.tumblr.com/ or check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Untitled-Black-Lesbian-Elder-Project/200050120031034