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In this remarkable photodocumentary, Penny Coleman captures the faces and memories of the senior statesmen and women of the gay and lesbian community: a community that calls Greenwich Village - haven to the unorthodox and site of the famous Stonewall riots - its actual or symbolic home. In vivid detail, "Village Elders" describes what it was like "back...
In this remarkable photodocumentary, Penny Coleman captures the faces and memories of the senior statesmen and women of the gay and lesbian community: a community that calls Greenwich Village - haven to the unorthodox and site of the famous Stonewall riots - its actual or symbolic home. In vivid detail, "Village Elders" describes what it was like "back then" and how it is today for the gender outlaws whose lives and loves have challenged convention and precipitated one of the most profound social revolutions of the twentieth century. Through Coleman's incisive portraits and interviews, the faces and personalities of these unique individuals spring off the page with all their vitality, humor, desire, and courage intact. The largely uncharted history that emerges in this "family album" bears witness to a social landscape that has changed radically during the lives of these narrators. Growing up in a society that viewed homosexuality as an illness or a perversion, these elders led revolutionary lives, often in spite of themselves. Lacking support groups and community centers, hounded by the threat of arrest, job loss, eviction, and exposure, they fought to establish physical and emotional sanctuaries and to preserve their sense of self (and their sense of humor). Now twice removed from the mainstream, their lives reflect both the complexities of gender and the richness of age. As individuals, these Elders describe a wide range of responses to censure and prejudice. They identify different issues as centrally defining their lives and are diversely affected by the intersections of their sexuality with race, class, culture, and age. Some are now solitary; others have been in committed relationships for decades. Many tell their stories here for the first time. Transgressive, intimate, and moving, "Village Elders" documents a vital and articulate presence, a community of survivors that refuses to be silent and invisible, to be asexual, or to disappear.
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