Filmmaker P J Ravel’s new documentary focuses on a subject that rarely ever surfaces in any media i.e. growing old in the gay community. He trails three elderly men as they all try to survive and have some fun as they edge towards the latter part of their lives.
Robert is the most upbeat, surrounded by an odd assortment of drag queens, he has run the oldest gay bar in Texas for the past four decades. He has been the life and soul of his small world for ever, but with his life partner now dead, and having to deal with health issues and a potential ruinous lawsuit, even he is struggling to keep his optimism up. Ty is an intensely serious man in his sixties who lives in East Harlem, and helps run SAGE a help centre for elderly gay people, and he is also involved in the fight for same-sex marriage in NY. Dennis is a seventy six year old widower and only ‘came out’ as a cross dresser a few years ago after his wife died. His is the saddest of stories for unlike the other two he is dealing with sheer loneliness living isolated in a decrepit trailer-park type home in Niceville Florida, as well as now having to come to terms with his sexuality for the first time. For him in particular being an elderly single gay man in a youth orientated world is very tough indeed.
Many of the problems that an aging gay population face are the same as heterosexuals but as in all three cases they must cope without the support of the families that have rejected them, although in most cases (except for the poor Dennises of the world) they are more than adequately replaced by ‘family’ from the gay community. The other fact that sinks in from the interviews is that whilst all elderly people must deal with their friends dying before them, in the case of gay men of this generation they have already lost a significant amount of theirs prematurely during the AIDS epidemic.
Two (smallish) criticisms of this immensely fascinating film. It covered the legalising of same-sex marriage in NY and even a wedding after that, but it didnt touch on what this could/should effect this older generation. And secondly with a running time of some 110 minutes, the movie was in need of a pair of skillfull editors scissors, especially where some items/information was repeated more than once.
On a personal note, I would urge the Producers to add one of those Health & Safety Warnings to people of my (advanced) age before we view this. When you are the same age as the men of the screen, the whole subject matter is much much too close for comfort. LOL