A moving documentary, Where Do All The Old Gays Go?, is a sublime, open film that celebrates being older and gay whilst highlighting how there is still work to be done.
An intimate exploration of the older LGBTQIA+ community living in Ireland. The contributors speak openly and honestly about what resonates with them, not only from their past but also their future. What transpired was the capturing of joys and sorrows that continue to shape their lives, from love to hope, to health, to concerns for safeguarding their future, as well as the never-ending possibility of accepting and becoming your true self regardless of your age.
As Where Do All The Old Gays Go? eases in, we are introduced to these wonderfully warm people, giving us little tidbits into their lives and with the couples, how they met. You can’t help but smile as they recant their younger days while highlighting the struggles that younger gay people will encounter. Of course, they are but a small group, but we must hear from them. The leading hook in Cathy Dunne’s documentary is when the group talks about their fears when they need to go into nursing homes.
As our contributors speak about their hopes for when they get old Daíthí, they state the importance of their care when their Dementia worsens. They want to ensure that they are not treated differently from heterosexual people. When thinking about such a thing, like medical care or care for older people, you don’t necessarily think of this; you can sense a fear in them that if they are placed into care, this aspect of them their identity may be taken from them because people naturally assume older people are heterosexual. Amplifying this is Kay and Celine, who also present this as a fear that they have. The hope is that when it is their time to go into a nursing home, they will witness other couples and people of various sexualities present.
This lingers with you immensely, leaving you to only hope that it will not be the case for this group, that there will be representation there for those and not being almost forced back into the closet because of their sexuality in their twilight years. Dan and Clive hope and would prefer being in a home or facility for gay people is floated. The fear is obviously very prevalent in these people that have been out for so long that being pushed back into a situation where they cannot be themselves is more terrifying than death, and rightly so. One points out that Ireland has fallen behind other EU countries in not having such a facility already on the ground. Indeed, this idea should be forwarded, but will it be implemented in time for people of the ages of our group in Where Do All The Old Gays Go?
The positive atmosphere Dunne gives her participants provides us with an incredible openness into their lives, how these characters found each other and their hopes for the future. You get great little moments in these 18 minutes, whether it is Patricia showing us how she came out as trans or revealing the struggle this caused with her partner and family. But without the support of her partner Susan, that transition may never have happened. Equally, Daíthís line about having Dementia and realising that their candle is beginning to flicker is tragically poignant. There are, of course, several other moments like this spread through Where Do All The Old Gays Go? but it is better for you to discover those for yourself.
Filmmaker Cathy Dunne has made an excellent short documentary here, giving those a platform who wouldn’t usually get to have their voices heard a chance to show that they are still around and won’t just disappear into the night. You see the love they all have for life; there is a beautiful sense of comfort in documentaries like this, but also enough of an edge to let us know, especially here in Ireland, that there is still work to do. That people like Kay, Celine, Patricia, Dan, Clive and Daíthí have a place they can see out those final years if their homes are no longer an option.
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