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“Gen Silent” Follows Plight of Aging LGBT People

"Gen Silent" follow the problems faced by aging LGBT people as they seek care. Photo courtesy of official Website.

Lawrence Johnson cared for his ailing partner Alexandre Rheume for years but the burden became too much.

Still the decision to put Rheume in a nursing home after the interracial couple had lived together for 38 years was heartbreaking for Johnson, who worried his partner would get inferior care because he is gay.

In fact, the staff at some facilities had made Johnson feel uncomfortable when he held Rheume’s hand or fed him. 

“It’s bad enough that you have to put someone in a nursing home,” said Johnson, who in his early 60s is more than 20 years younger than Rheume. “Then to compound the fact there may be prejudices, and the person going into the nursing home might not be treated as well — not in overt ways, but all these subtle things that let you know you’re not wanted.”

Documentary producer and director Stu Maddox and his team looked at the plight of aging LGBT people in their film, “Gen Silent.” The film follows a year in the life of Johnson, Rheume and other aging LGBT people in the Boston area.

Some had been active in the gay community for years but decided to go back into the closet in old age to avoid discrimination or bullying from caregivers or other nursing home residents.

Stu Maddox

Maddox, whose work has appeared on Showtime, BBC and The Learning Channel, said social workers were some of the first to be aware of this dilemma. In fact, “Gen Silent” won the Audience Choice Award at the Council on Social Work Education Gero-Ed Film Festival in 2010 (to read more about that click here).

“We feel like social workers are not only catching up to this but can also make the change for the better, probably more than any other group,” Maddox said.

WATCH “GEN SILENT” THIS WEEKEND!

The makers of “Gen Silent” are offering a special promotion to allow social workers to watch the film for free online this weekend. To learn more click here. You can also learn more about the film and get information on arranging private viewings by visiting the official Website by clicking here.

Social workers are committed to equal treatment for all, including LGBT individuals. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ Diversity & Equity Website by clicking here. And to find out more about how social workers help the elderly, visit NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Seniors and Aging Website by clicking here.

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