Before You Know It


Are the most terrifying words in the gay universe “Everyone gets old?” PJ Raval’s insightful new documentary Before You Know It offers a poignant and revealing look at the aging challenges unique to the gay community. Meet our three gay elder statesmen. First is Dennis, ex-military, wife deceased, family estranged. Dennis is just now, in his 70s, publicly coming out as a cross-dresser. At the Rainbow Vista Retirement Community, he finds acceptance and the courage to be himself. Next is Ty, an impassioned LGBT activist living in Harlem who is setting up the very first gay booth at a Harlem street fair. Ty celebrates New York’s gay marriage legislation by helping a friend marry his longtime partner. Finally there is Robert, the feisty owner of a drag bar in New Orleans. Robert is a local legend and still struts the stage at his club, but he must prepare for battle when his neighborhood institution comes under threat. Born before the Civil Rights era, these men have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes, from the Stonewall Riots and gay liberation, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and Queer Nation, to gay marriage and Lady Gaga, and have lived to become part of an unprecedented “out” elder generation (there are an estimated 2.4 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans over the age of 55 living in the United States). With courage, humor, and a lifetime of accrued attitude, these men offer the world, gay or straight, a lesson in how to age on one’s own terms. Before You Know It focuses on the lives of three gay seniors, but reminds us that while LGBT elders face a specific set of issues, aging and its challenges are universal. An affirmation of life and human resilience told with a refreshing humor and candor, the film confirms that you are never too old to reshape society. (Dir. by PJ Raval, 2013, USA, 110 mins., Not Rated) Digital