People ask me where I came up with the term “Gen Silent”.
I made a documentary about LGBT older people going back into the closet because they are afraid of the people taking care of them or the other seniors they live with. It airs Monday, Nov. 9 at 9pm ET/PT on Logo. It doesn’t matter whether they are baby boomers or the generation that came before, many LGBT elders are faced with not talking about their lives in order to survive. So, I call my film, Gen Silent.
I didn’t make it because I owed it to my LGBT elders. I did it because I owe it to myself. I am not hearing the voice of my queer elders with the same volume and in as many places as I hear straight older people. Not getting to hear from them, robs me of the voice of experience; I don’t get to see people living successful lives as much. Their oppression affects me. Me.
And yet I have never felt as proud about who I am (cis gay man here) than when I do connect with an LGBT older person. Hearing them and watching them live is when I truly understand the word “pride”. That’s when I really feel it. Bonus: the more I talk with them, the more secrets I get on how to take the world they are handing me and keep making it better to hand on to people who will come after me.
If you think the silence will end when Gen Silent dies off, think again. We are a new generation of silence growing from a world that is even more polarized than theirs. It happens every time we feel unsafe expressing our identity, our politics, our faith because a hater hijacks the conversation at a dinner party with a clever backhanded comment. Micro aggression. It makes no difference whether your are 18 or 80, it’s the moment when we sit silently asking ourselves, ‘am I gonna stand up or shut up?’ And we all know that sometimes it’s just easier to keep your mouth shut. In that moment you know what it’s like to be an LGBT older person every day.
There are millions of happy and out elders. I just don’t want a single one of them reaching for the mute button- ever.