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July 12, 2013

A New Documentary on LGBT Aging

BeforeYouKnowIt-460x460Near the end of June, SAGE had the pleasure of screening the film, Before You Know It, at The SAGE Center, just a few days after its New York City premiere at Lincoln Center. This moving documentary follows three older gay men from different parts of the country, painting portraits of three very different lives.  The film’s Facebook page describes its subjects this way:

“Born before the Civil Rights era, these men have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes, from the Stonewall Riots and gay liberation, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and Queer Nation, to gay marriage and Lady Gaga, and have lived to become part of an unprecedented ‘out’ elder generation. BEFORE focuses on the lives of these three gay seniors, but reminds us that while LGBT elders face a specific set of issues, aging and its challenges are universal. An affirmation of life and human resilience told with a refreshing humor and candor, BEFORE confirms that you are never too old to reshape society.”

Before You Know It holds a special place in SAGE’s heart, because one of the three men starring in the movie is SAGE’s very own Ty Martin, Harlem Community Liaison at SAGE Harlem in New York City. Over the course of a couple of years, the film’s director & producer PJ Raval and producer Sara Giustini, along with their film crew, spent quite a bit of time with Ty, constituents of SAGE Harlem, and in the Harlem LGBT community. What emerges is a story of an incredibly warm and supportive community, joyfully celebrating advances for LGBT equality while acknowledging the difficulties and struggles of being gay, older and African American.

PJ, Sara and their crew took incredible care with Ty’s story, and presumably took the same care with the stories of the film’s other two protagonists, Robert and Dennis. Robert is from Galveston, Texas, where he owns the state’s oldest gay bar. Dennis splits his time between Florida and Portland; a widower in his 70s, he has only just started to explore his sexual identity. Together, these three men’s experiences weave a picture of strength, resilience, and the importance of being surrounded by friends and peers who understand and support each other. The film also provides a window into the diverse lives of LGBT older adults, busting through common ageist stereotypes and showing viewers that there is no singular “LGBT elder story.”

Visit the official site of Before You Know It to view the trailer. Before You Know It will be screened next in Los Angeles at OutFest, on July 14. Other screenings in July include Philadelphia, Dallas, Galveston, and Denver. If you’re in one of these cities, get your tickets now and see this film!

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In 1997 my Tucson, AZ based production company Ruby Moon Productions did a 23 minute chaser to raise funds for full length documentary; SILVER LININGS: Paths of Lesbian and Gay Elders -The basis was 11 Lesbian and gays born prior to 1930 from all over the country from Seattle, to Peoria to Columbus, their stories , trials, full of humor and pathos....but at that time the attention was paid to Gay Youth and their stories and problems... beside support from the AZ Center Media Arts, the only national LGBT agency that would give us the time of day was the Bruce and Arch Brown Foundation (currently of Palm Springs). Old folks weren't "vogue" back then.
Sage was around then as well...sure wish we would of received this press and supportback then - perhaps it would be in winner in LGBT film archives

Unfortunately, LGBT older adults are still not in "vogue," which is why documentaries like this and GenSilent are so important! Did Silver Linings ever come to be in any way? We would be interested!

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