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Thursday, September 12, 2024

LGBTQ Older Adults on the Silver Screen

According to recent estimates, at least 1.5 million adults 65 and older are members of the LGBTQ community. But, even as great strides have been made for LGBTQ rights and representation in recent decades, art and media about the LGBTQ community and movement have often focused on young people.

At Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services (CMSS), we want to help change that by calling attention to experiences of older adults in the LGBTQ community, and to support older LGBTQ adults whatever their unique experiences may be. That’s why we’re focusing on aging in the LGBTQ community on our blog this national LGBTQ Pride Month.

Film has the power to portray characters’ experiences in an empathetic way, and to introduce us to characters in whom we can recognize ourselves or people we know. This representation is so important, for LGBTQ individuals and older adults. Today, we’re taking a look at some films featuring older LGBTQ characters that go through unique challenges not largely discussed in the media. Have you seen any of these three?


In a series of flashbacks, “Beginners” follows the relationship between the main character, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer). After Oliver’s mother (and Hal’s wife of over 40 years) passes away, Hal comes out as gay – turning both his and his son’s life upside down. The film shows what it truly means to be family and explores the idea of acceptance in a new way.

“Beginners” has been critically acclaimed for its realistic depiction of older adults experiencing LGBTQ relationships for the first time. This may be the perfect film for you if you came out until later in life or have friends or family members who did.

“Love is Strange”

“Love is Strange” follows newly married Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), a gay couple who have been together for over 35 years. Though their relationship isn’t new, the couple faces backlash in both their careers and personal life after getting married, resulting in some severe life changes.

This film received favorable reviews from critics and portrays some of the hardships faced by many LGBTQ older adults, including discrimination at work and in religious communities. It movingly shows the resilience and grace with which Ben and George navigate these life changes. Warning, this movie may make you shed a tear or two.

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

This film follows a group of British retirees who decide to pack up their whole lives and move across the world to a retirement hotel in India. While not known explicitly for its LGBTQ plot line, the film follows Graham Dashwood (played by Tom Wilkinson), a strapping older adult who has returned to India in search of the man he once loved as a teenager. The end result may surprise you.

As an added benefit, the film also follows the characters’ unique experiences moving to a retirement community, as well as their personal thoughts on aging. Consider watching this movie with your friends or loved ones and take the opportunity to start a conversation about aging and the life changes it can bring. Movies and other forms of art and entertainment can be great entries into important conversations like these.

For the rest of June, we’ll continue to explore the unique experiences of older LGBTQ adults on the Chicago Senior Pulse Blog. Come back every week to read our newest posts.

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