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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Late-in-Life Lesbian Documentary

With prominent women like Kelly McGillis, Carol Liefer and Cynthia Nixon coming Out later in life, many are wondering what the deal is with this late-in-life lesbian phenomenon.

Filmmakers Beatrice Alda (daughter of actor Alan Alda) and her partner, Jennifer Brooke felt that the subject was important enough to create a 2008 documentary titled "Out Late."

The idea for the documentary, which looks at the lives of five women who found new sexual identities after the age of 55, came from a friend of the couple's named Jason.

"Jason's mother was in her 80s, unhappy and divorced 40 years ago," said Alda. "He said, 'I think she may be a lesbian and doesn't know it.' It's not as uncommon as you think."

One of the film's subjects, Elaine, came out at age 79, after 50 years of marriage.

"It was something she felt she had to do," Brooke told "She bumped into two strangers at a market and said, basically, 'Are you two partners? I need to talk to you,' and she used them in the most positive way as an avenue to free herself. And she never turned back."

Many women who came of age in the 1940s and 1950s, like Elaine, were taught it was their "duty" to marry and have children.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, women celebrated "romantic friendships," according to Leila Rupp, professor of feminist studies at University of California at Santa Barbara and author of "Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women." One of the most famous was that of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who had an "intense, passionate" relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok in the 1930s.

However, it wasn't until the development of the feminist movement in the 70's that gave women more control of their bodies. "Now there are more options for women, and it's more socially acceptable," Rupp stated. "But it's not just about biology."

For more information about the documentary, you can visit Forever Film's Website.

Abc News
Forever Films

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