The Tip of the Spear
Ten More Good Years documents the experience of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender aging. Prior to viewing this outstanding film, I wondered why anyone with any sensitivity would lump lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aging within one now-familiar acronym—LGBT. Categorical thinking, after all, makes far too easy the negative stereotyping and discrimination used so often to create, denigrate, and disenfranchise those who are not “straight.” However, Ten More Good Years uses the LGBT label to great effect. It illustrates an aging experience that is both unique and shared, that is, LGBT individuals are unique in that they share an uncommon and extraordinary path into the later years. Like straight elders, LGBT elders must deal with the usual challenges associated with growing older. Sixty-nine year old Jack Ogg of San Francisco just hopes for 10 more good years of life. But his struggle to achieve them will be different from that of mainstream elders. Unless things change, Jack and other LGBT elders will have a tougher time securing health care, affordable housing, and economic security due to institutionalized heterosexism in the Federal programs and policies governing these service arenas. Terry Kaelber, executive director of Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Elders (SAGE), comments that “LGBT aging is informed by care providers that assume that all old people are straight. The aging of LGBT people is informed by the discrimination of antigay citizenry, which impacts our willingness to access these services.”
This film shares the personal stories of a handful of remarkable elders who manifestly defined the struggle for LGBT rights. Their experiences are shared and validated more widely by a fleet of gerontologists (e.g., Dr. Brian de Vries), lawyers from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (www.nclrights.org), strategists from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (www.ngltf.org), service and advocacy groups such as SAGE (www.sageusa.org), the LGBT Aging Issues Network (http://asaging.org/lain), New Leaf Services (http://new.sfaf.org/tspsf/), and Housing and Urban Development administrators. These advocates provide a factual account of the structural bias in the social service system that excludes LBGT elders. A serious proviso is in order here: Sources are not provided for the “on-screen” factual statements that appear throughout the video.