Too often, senior citizens in the U.S. experience both physical and emotional indignities. Neglect and elder abuse are topics of great concern for healthcare professionals and social workers, but within this easily ignored population there is even a more hidden and underrepresented minority—aging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Their needs are very rarely understood or respected in nursing homes and by caregivers, which often forces LGBT elders back into the closet. A new documentary by filmmaker Stu Maddux called Gen Silent addresses this growing epidemic of discrimination and abuse in society.
Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated. Many of our greatest generation are dying prematurely because they don't ask for help and have too few people in their lives to keep an eye on them.
Among GLBT elders there’s a deep distrust, one person in the film explains, of institutions in general, given that elder gays have spend their lives faced with large-scale organizations--from the military to corporate culture to churches to society itself--that afflicts GLBTs with assumptions and accusations questioning gays’ mental and moral fitness, and attacking gays as being "perverts." The sad thing is how readily their health care system affirms the worst expectations of gays and lesbians, discounting their lifelong bonds to spouses and relegating them to second (or third) class status.