Film On “Silent” LGBT Elders Premieres In Richmond
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jay White. Jay is coordinating movement on Richmond’s SAGE Chapter as a student of VCU’s Department of Gerontology.
Aging in any community or demographic is a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey. Aging in the LGBT community adds another layer. Aging in less urban communities adds yet another layer. It is important to recognize that different cultures approach aging with an array of concerns. For many in the LGBT community, the “Golden Years” do not glitter and fears of discrimination and mistreatment are common as one ages and becomes less independent.
Director Stu Maddux brings his documentary, “Gen Silent,” to the Richmond Triangle Players on August 29. With power and heartbreak, Maddux’s film is socially relevant to the aging LGBT population. Maddux spent a year in Boston, Massachusetts following the lives and travails of 6 LGBT elders as they came head-to-head with a medical system that is unprepared at best–and overtly hostile at worst–when it comes to meeting their needs.
But the nucleus of the issue is that some of these brave souls, faced now with nursing homes where the fellow residents–and even the staff– can be hateful, shunning, and downright abusive, are withdrawing once more into the closet. The film reveals how gay elders are harassed and marginalized, told that “it’s not too late to be ’cured,’ ” or forced to “pray” and ask “forgiveness” for their alleged “sins.” No one wants to have a lifetime judged or even summed up by misconceptions. Not in Boston. Not anywhere.
The Richmond Region is known for attractions, museums, architecture, and 400 years of history along the James River. In a community where aging is seemingly lauded, it appears ironic that any members of our aging population would face discrimination. But if it is happening in Boston, it is happening in Richmond where access to even “mainstream” LGBT services is challenging and where many community programs focus on the cradle side of the aging spectrum.
The same time as “Gen Silent” is coming to Richmond, another initiative is underway through the Gay Community Center of Richmond. With assistance from a dedicated group from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Gerontology and community leaders in aging services, a SAGE (Service, Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Elders) program is in the early stages of development. SAGE is the world’s oldest and largest non-profit agency dedicated to serving and advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors. Since its inception, SAGE has pioneered programs and services for seniors in the LGBT community, provided technical assistance and training to expand opportunities for LGBT older people across the country, and provided a national voice on LGBT aging issues.
Together, the Richmond premiere of “Gen Silent” and the development of a regional SAGE chapter aim to propel issues of LGBT aging into a spotlight where more thoughtful services and programs can be generated and awareness can be built. The isolation of aging need not be exacerbated by the fear of discrimination and mistreatment.
For more information on becoming involved in the “Gen Silent” documentary premiere in Richmond, visit www.wordmarketingva.com/gensilent.htm or contact Jay White, 804-380-5581 or email@example.com. For more information on the development of a SAGE Chapter, contact Shannon Marling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-513-8445 or Cindy Bray at the Gay Community Center of Richmond, Cindy.Bray@gayrichmond.com or 804-380-0904. Photo and trailer from “Gen Silent.”
Nemeth, a lesbian, said she sensed that the relationship between the woman and the nursing home resident was more than just friends.June 30, 2015
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