Tag Archives: aging

Parenthood: Childless

9 Sep

ParenthoodMy husband and I watched Parenthood last night.  It is one of my favorite movies. It was also the first time I fell in love with Diane Wiest, who does a great job of showing the difficulties of being a single parent with unconditional love for her two children.  The movie does a fantastic job of showing the tensions, troubles, and triumphs of being both a child and a parent. While I still loved watching the movie, I was also quite mournful.  As a middle aged gay man, I had always wanted children.  I always saw myself as a parent before I saw myself as a spouse. I was quite comfortable not having a husband and thought I would just adopt a child and live my life out as a parent.

My world changed about 15 years ago and I fell in love with a man who is nothing less than wonderful and amazing.  He is so amazing that I chose being married over being a parent.  Of course, there are times I still break down in tears that I don’t have  children.  in fact, a short time ago, my husband and I were at a restaurant and I saw this young child with dark skin and really curly hair and thought, “this could be my child.”  I started to weep over my hamburger.  While my husband was quite supportive, he did not feel the loss I was feeling.

Sadly, while watching the movie, Parenthood, I reflected on how neurotic I would have been if I had children and how overly involved I would have been.  Fortunately, we have some very dear friends who allow us to watch their four children — we love them dearly!!!  However, I am able to observe my neurosis even while spending time with the kids.  For example, when one of the kids wants to show me her head stand, it takes everything I have not to say “please don’t do that,” for fear she will hurt herself.

I am so elated that same-sex couples have children.  The same-sex couples I know who have children love them so dearly. Regardless of sexual orientation, children need structure, guidance, and most of all love.  How sad that Justice Scalia and his  merry little band of homophobes try to justify their homophobia under the guise of bearing children.  Where does that leave all of my heterosexual friends who either choose to be childless, or are unable to bear children?  Again, we see Scalia and his fellow haters on the wrong side of history.

Finally, I am also grateful for all of the children (now adults) that I have had the honor of teaching.  It is an amazing honor to see students grow up as adults and still keep in contact with you.  While I don’t have biological children, I am very lucky to have generations of kids in the past 25 years.

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LGBT History Month 2013: Estelle

12 Jun
Pride

Pride

A friend of mine, whom I shall call Estelle, follows my blog and was elated to see that I was celebrating LGBT History Month.  I have known Estelle for over two years now, but never knew that she had tried to commit suicide. As an out lesbian and sensitive soul, she was feeling crushed by the negative messages all around her.

Estelle relayed this story to me and asked that I keep her real identity in confidence, but she hopes, as do I, that her story will be of help to other middle aged people as they embrace their sexual orientation with pride and not shame.  Estelle has children and parents who are now very supportive, but she does not want them to know that the pressures of society caused her suicide attempt.

Estelle:

Before I moved to Portland I was walking out the door with a garden hose in my hand, Was headed down to the lake to kill myself. I stopped because my friend Lana called me as I was walking out the door. I stopped to talk to her and before I knew it was 45 minutes later. And I had forgotten why I was holding a garden hose.
After living in Portland for a couple of years. I went back to that small town and stopped by to see her. I told her the story and we just sobbed.

Now I know I am suppose to be here–to be alive…

I can’t even imagine this world with out Estelle.  She has dedicated her life to helping other LGBT people and she models pride in being who she is: a wonderful and beautiful lesbian. Sadly, there are too many LGBT folk who do commit suicide.  Again, I would love to see a Make It Get Better Campaign, rather than It Gets Better Campaign.  We need to put the onus on the dominant culture, which means making laws and policies that create a level playing field, which we are far from having. Estelle asked that the following link be included.  Thank you, Estelle!  If you, or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please contact the Trevor Project.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

21 Oct

While I usually leave movie reviews to my friend and fellow blogger, Feminéma, I felt very compelled to review Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  This movie fits perfectly into the issues addressed by TSM — issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and social justice.

The tremendously talented ensemble cast make this movie an extraordinary treat, as they tackle aging, racism, marginalization, homophobia, and end of life issues. Tom Wilkinson is exceedingly convincing as a gay retired man returning to India to reconnect with the love of his life.  Wilkinson’s real life wife, Diana Hardcastle, plays the delightful easygoing Carol, who is eager to embrace her life. Former Absolutely Fabulous star, Celia Imrie, does an amazing job of a woman also wanting to reinvent herself, but also scared of what that might look like.

Another quite lovely and somewhat complicated story line is that of Penelope Wilton’s character, Jean and the demise of her marriage to Douglas, played by Bill Nighy (who was also brilliant in Love Actually). The story of Jean and Douglas is bittersweet and at times difficult to watch as they both wrestle with what they want their respective lives to look like during the autumn of their lives.  Penelope Wilton does a marvelous job of showing how many women of her age live fear based lives that can be paralyzing.  Juxtaposed with Jean, we have the recently widowed Evelyn, played by Judi Dench.  Evelyn is a picture of the complexities of a woman experiencing grief and at the same time living with great intentionality and pushing herself to forge a new life on her own terms. Rounding out the cast is the always marvelous Maggie Smith, whose racist character shows hidden depths as the bitterness of her first scene is explained and we get to watch her grow in ways that surprise even her.

In total, I found the movie to be inspirational and offers great hope.  There are times when it is nice to just watch a movie and leave feeling fueled.  I felt very nourished after watching this film, and extend an invitation to TSM readers to rent Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  

My Love For Kathleen Turner

29 Sep

Kathleen Turner first caught my eye when I was quite young, and she was starring on a soap called The Doctors.  Her beauty and sultry voice were captivating. And of course who could forget Turner on the cover of Vanity Fair?  Later I saw her in Body Heat, and wow what a performance.  It was not until Romancing the Stone that I truly fell in love with Turner.  Not only was she amazingly beautiful, but she was bright, independent, and finds her own voice. Here we are in the 21st Century and I think I actually am more in love with her now.

Turner is one of the handful (and I do mean handful) of women who have refused to alter her appearance and has not succumbed to superficial pressure of what women are supposed to look like. For this she has earned my eternal devotion. In fact, I find her even more beautiful because she is her own woman, and her own person.  Her brilliance shines through!

Of course, I also find her politics and use of celebrity amazingly sexy.  Turner has used her celebrity for civil rights causes, including marriage equality and health care rights for women.

Last night, my husband and I watched The Perfect Family, in which Turner gives an absolutely amazing performance and shows how hypocritical and dangerous Catholicism can be.  Turner plays a devout Catholic who is up for The Catholic Woman of the Year Award.  The movie does a great and subtle job of exposing the misogyny and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. It also does a nice job of dealing with LGBT families.  What is also worth noting is that Turner looks her age, which I find brilliant!  What an amazing role-model for women. Ms. Turner, if you ever get to Portland, I hope you will have supper with my husband and me.

Happy Birthday, Cloris Leachman!

30 Apr

86 and still going strong!

Today an award-winning actress and activist turns 86 years young. Still going strong and looking great, let’s celebrate Cloris Leachman. Born in Des Moines, IA, she majored in drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern (where she was classmates with Paul Lynde). She launched into early success in pageants, winning Miss Chicago and competing in Miss America 1946. From there she moved into her acting career.

Leachman attended Elia Kazan’s Actors Studio, where she met life-long friend Marlon Brando. She began a Broadway career, including being asked by Katharine Hepburn to co-star in As You Like It. She also started what would become a highly celebrated television career at this time with many cameos and guest appearances on 1950s series. Her film career began with a bit part, but she soon took on starring roles, working opposite Paul Newman in her third movie, Kiss Me Deadly. In 1971 she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning performance in The Last Picture Show. A very different role than the comedic performances for which she is best known, it is one of the finest supporting actress performances of all time and shows the true depth of her talent and quite honestly her performance left me in awe. Just to prove her versatility, perhaps her other best-known movie role is as the scene-stealing Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks’ finest comedy, Young Frankenstein. (“He vas my…BOYFRIEND!”)

Cloris Leachman became best known for her role in the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the early 70s. Appearing in several episodes in the first five seasons as Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s nosy and opinionated neighbor and landlady, she was nominated three times for best supporting actress (winning once) and rewarded with her own spin-off series, Phyllis. My very favorite episode features the introduction of Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, who has an affair with Phyllis’ invisible husband, Lars. (Enjoy this clip of the Lars Affair, featuring my favorite Phyllis speech about The Life of the Bee at 4:15.) In the forty years since, Leachman has had numerous guest and starring roles on TV, including a fantastic run as Ellen’s mother on the short-lived but delightful The Ellen Show. She has amassed a record-setting eight prime-time Emmy awards and one daytime Emmy.

Not content to have a successful career, she is also an outspoken activist. She is best known for her work for animal rights, working closely with PETA and mounting campaigns to retire elderly animals from their public careers (in circuses and the like). She is an outspoken vegetarian, appearing in this all-lettuce dress. An honest woman who is proud of her body and her age, she also advocates for respect for the elderly and fights ageism by proving you can look great and be happy and still look your age. She interviewed with InTouch magazine in 2009 about living healthy and naturally, including admitting to one brief, unhappy flirtation with Botox. Asked if she’d ever do it again, she replied

No! It was ridiculous. You can’t just have part of your face not moving and the rest moving everywhere. That doesn’t work.

Leachman’s honesty, energy, and wit make her an effective champion for many causes. She advocates for women’s rights and LGBT equality as well, including serving as Grand Marshall of the 2010 San Diego Pride Parade. Here’s to Cloris Leachman! Who can guess what the next decade will bring?

Women’s History Month 2012: Wendie Malick

28 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate actress and activist Wendie Malick. Born in 1950 in Buffalo, NY, Malick graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and began a career in modelling. She did some political volunteering and then began to focus on her acting career. Understanding the value of her public persona, Malick has focused on the power of bringing light to people’s lives.

I think people underestimate the benefits of laughter.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve come to be very proud of the work I do, because I know how much I value the people who make me laugh before I go to sleep at night, and I know that without Jon Stewart, the world would be a far more difficult place to live in.

She is also a vigorous advocate for many causes. She has spent most of her adult life on Planned Parenthood’s Board of Advocates. She is also concerned with body image and self esteem issues for women. Speaking about those issues and how they play out on her smash sitcom,Hot In Cleveland, she observes:

But what I do think we’ve lost in our culture, and it’s the complete opposite of what our characters do, is embracing this stage in our lives and owning our experience. I think it’s funny because when we first did this show, [show creator] Suzanne [Martin] kept talking about how we’re the late 40-something women.  But I said, ‘Let me play my age. Let me turn 60.’ It’s important to remind women out there that you don’t have to crawl under a rock  at any given age. Also, obesity, which we are dealing with. Now the ways we deal with these issues are as quasi idiots. These are serious problems that we tackle in a comedic way.

Malick is also very involved with PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, passions she shares with co-star Betty White. She has testified before Congress about animal cruelty. Wendie Malick is a woman who is happy being herself and finds pleasure in bringing joy to others. How nice to see a star who is so engaged in social justice!

Oregon Supports LGBT Seniors

17 May

May 20 and 21 are the dates for the annual Gay and Grey Expo in Portland, Oregon. Co-hosted by Friendly House and the Q Center, this event includes a Friday night social and a Saturday resource convention that combines informative break-out sessions and a trade fair to address the health, housing and social service needs of LGBTQI Seniors.

This wonderful event recognizes the unique needs of seniors in the gay community who often lack the kinds of family support and other resources that many seniors can draw on. This issue is significant enough that Oregon’s Governor, John Kitzhaber, issued a proclomation recognizing May 21 as “Gay and Grey Day.”


It is wonderful to have such strong support and recognition for the LGBT community in Oregon government.

The Portland metro area also has one of the country’s few LGBT-focused retirement communities, Rainbow Vista. This community provides support tailored to the needs of LGBT seniors:

It is our desire to serve the need of LGBT seniors by providing a safe and affordable community to living and strive in. We also support the gay community by being a part of many local events … We also provide a space for public events and meetings at our community.

Oregon seniors and their families (of birth and choice) should take full advantage of these wonderful opportunities.

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