Inside Out LGBT 2013: Before You Know It (2012)
The topic of aging in American society is a prickly one. We have a youth-worshiping culture that views the elderly as somewhat icky and mostly a pain the ass. PJ Raval’s documentary Before You Know It suggests that the trials of aging may be of a magnitude more if you happen to be not only old, but gay. The movie is not exactly positive, but it is sensitive and contemplative and will appeal to anyone looking down the barrel of their own mortality.
Before You Know It follows the story of 3 gay men, Ty in Harlem, Robert in Galveston, Dennis in Portland. None of the three are in particularly dire straits – there’s no major financial issues or poor health beyond the expected. But what each of the three subjects has in common is a smaller than average (or at least lesser than their straight counterparts) support network. Due to alienation by family members or to losing too many friends in the AIDS crisis, these men find themselves mostly alone.
Before You Know It does a fine job of illustrating that though each of these have found a place in the world and managed to carve out surrogate families of sort, the typical kind of curves balls life tends to throw us have a for more devastating impact for the aging gay community. For example, Robert is the loud and proud owner of Galveston’s oldest gay bar, but a looming legal battle that jeopardizes his business portends not only financial ruin but the loss of the single tie that binds his make shift family together.
In a way, Before You Know It over emphasizes the impact of sexuality here. Plenty of heterosexual elderly people struggle financially and play out their waning years in lonely isolation. But there is a relevant point here about the increased vulnerability for the gay community due to the lack of some basic rights and institutional support that is granted to the straight people in America as a matter of course. While there’s a lot of positive change on the horizon in terms of legalizing gay marriage and normalizing that institutional support for the gay community, it’s going to arrive too late to help Ty, Robert, and Dennis.
Before You Know It screens on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox.