Invisible No More: LGBT Aging Comes Out Of The Closet In “Gen Silent”

What are we doing to help the greatest gay generation?

Debuting Monday, November 9 at 9pm, the Logo documentary Gen Silent sheds light on a segment of the LGBT community that’s long been invisible—our elderly.

Without the natural support systems offered by biological families, many LGBT seniors face unique challenges as they age—from isolation and financial concerns to whether they can trust care professionals to be respectful and welcoming.

Gen Silent subject Lois Johnson

Some elderly gays even go back in the closet, afraid they’ll be stigmatized or discriminated against in assisted living.

In Gen Silent, director Stu Maddux profiles five amazing LGBT seniors confronting these issues with dignity and determination.

After a special screening in Washington, DC, Thursday night, Times columnist Steven Petrow led a discussion with Maddux, AARP’s Winifred V. Quinn, HRC health and aging director Tari Hanneman and SAGE’s Aaron Tax about the film and the vital issue of LGBT aging.

gen silent 1

One of Gen Silent’s incredible subjects, poet Lawrence Johnson (below with Maddux), was at the screening and discussed how returning to his craft—and finding a community of LGBT seniors—helped bring him back from the brink of despair after his partner of almost 40 years succumbed to Parkinson’s dementia.

Dan Avery

The greying of the gay community is an undiscussed epidemic that touches on every aspect of our rainbow tribe.

Today, 50% of people with HIV/AIDS are over the age of 50, and yet most AIDS resource/support groups are not educated on issues affecting seniors. (Similarly, most senior care organizations are unfamiliar with the issues raised by HIV.)

Have we progressed so far as a community, only to forget those who blazed the trail for us? And will we be ready when our time comes?

Don’t miss Gen Silent, debuting Monday at 9pm on Logo.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.