Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alda/Brooke's OUT LATE tracks elderly GLBTs coming to terms with coming out

There are many different subjects that could be addressed in a documentary about gay and lesbian senior citizens, but one that you might not immediately expect nor think about is the fact that many of these  people have come "out" quite late in life -- due mainly to the restrictions placed on homosexual identity back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, when they were young and/or coming of age. Youth these days cannot begin to under-stand the no-no nature of admitting to your homosexuality back then. Your family could have you placed in a hospital and given electroshock treatments.  Not that this is any better than meeting the end accorded, say, to Matthew Shephard -- but that, thankfully, is a relative anomaly these days. Hospitalization, immediate firing from your job, even jail could await you a half century or more ago.

In their 62-minute movie OUT LATE (cute play on words, that title!) first-time film-makers Beatrice Alda and Jennifer Brooke (you can find out more about them by clicking here, then clicking on "About the Film" and then on About the Filmmakers) point their camera and microphone at five senior GLBTs -- the youngest of whom, Cathy Jambrosic (from Kansas, shown above, right, with her partner) came out age 57; the oldest, Elaine Weber (shown below) managed it at age 79! Cathy's story proves the most interesting because it probes her relationship with her neigh-bors, a straight-laced Christian couple who prove good friends nonetheless, especially when the state of Kansas passes its law that restricts marriage to a man and a woman. The conversation and self-analysis that goes on with these friends -- involving reli-gion and morality -- is quite interesting, and even rather inspiring.

Old Elaine, on the other hand, after as good a marriage as would seem possible for a lesbian to have with a straight man, is finding it difficult and tricky to land a partner at her advanced age. Feisty and with a fine sense of humor, she's still looking, but the pickings seem thin (most of the possibilities have already died off), and while a number of people are happy to be a "friend," nobody yet has come forth as a possible lover.

The male realm is represented by a quite nice Canadian fellow named Walter, shown at right, who, with his partner Bill, takes us through the "good old days" and into our present decade. The pair comes out to their church, and the experience is salutary; while a few parishioners balk, most are OK with it.

The oldest man, Ken, was married to a woman for decades, and had a good marriage. Even the sex was enjoyable, he explains, though he never felt truly comfortable with a woman's body -- even though he had practically no experience with a man's. As part of his new education, Ken goes through The Body Electric's sexual experience, of which his "spiritual guide" tells us that he still recalls how very large was Ken's member.

Donald, now going under the name of LeAnna, is the one transgen-dered in the group, making his change at age 60. His reminiscence of his time in the military -- and of keeping nylons hidden in is his regular stockings in order to have something feminine nearby -- is both funny and sad. Those were the days!

The movie, at its hour-length, never outstays it welcome. If it takes awhile to get going (the scenes of seniors dancing in a disco seem to go on too long and show up once too often), Out Late find its focus and scores its points once we get to know the five participants and some of their significant-others. Made in 2008, it is finally available on DVD, via First Run Features, for rental (at least you can SAVE it to your Netflix queue) or for purchase.

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