America ReFramed

Before You Know It

Season 03  Episode 26

With humor and candor, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT celebrates the bold and brave lives of active gay senior citizens who have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes: from the Stonewall Riots and gay liberation to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gay marriage rights. 

The film introduces us to Dennis, a gentle-hearted widower in his 70s who explores his sexual identity and fondness for dressing in women's clothing under the name "Dee," and becomes a resident at Rainbow Vista, a gay retirement community outside of Portland, Oregon. In Harlem, New York, we meet Ty, an impassioned activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, who hears nothing but wedding bells once gay marriage legislation passes in New York; and, Robert, known as "The Mouth," who was born and reared in Houston, Texas. The son of a Southern Baptist preacher, Robert always knew he was a "sissy." But in Galveston, Texas, he is a feisty bar owner who presses on when his neighborhood institution is threatened. 

Born before the modern gay rights movement, Dennis, Ty and Robert have become pioneers in an unprecedented "out" generation of elders. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over the age of 55. While some gay Americans adhered to the cultural norms of earlier times, others became activists and made it their mission to live out, loud and proud. Each has faced discrimination, neglect and exclusion.