These 25 LGBT achievers over 65 are proving that a person can change the world at any age.
BY ADVOCATE.COM EDITORS
NOVEMBER 26 2014
“Wisdom comes with winters,” Oscar Wilde once stated. And the Prime Time 25, The Advocate’s annual list of outstanding LGBT activists and influencers over the age of 65, is proving this adage correct.
In a seminal year for the LGBT community, our elders continue to be at the vanguard of this progress, distinguishing themselves in the spheres of politics, art, activism, business, and entertainment, while serving as role models for younger generations.
Take a look at the 25 extraordinary writers, athletes, artists, military veterans, and even a magician who are disproving stereotypes of their age demographic by actively contributing to the betterment of the world.
Armistead Maupin, 70, Author
Earlier this year, writer Armistead Maupin released The Days of Anna Madrigal, the final novel in his celebrated Tales of the City series. The stories, which were first printed in a San Francisco area newspaper in 1974, chronicle the West Coast LGBT community through Mary Ann Singleton, a newcomer whose Heartland-born eyes are opened by the diverse, colorful characters in her new city, including her mysterious landlord Anna Madrigal. The series was first novelized in 1978, and has grown into nine books, several of which were adapted into television programs for PBS and Showtime. As a result, generations of media consumers from all walks of life have gotten to know the beautiful, queer characters of Maupin’s world.
Maupin’s influence on culture was recently recognized by the LGBT film organization Outfest, which honored the writer at its 2014 Legacy Awards. Speaking to The Advocate about his impact on a younger generation of readers, Maupin acknowledged that in terms of audience size, there are “not as many as I’d like, but a growing number, and they recognize the basic emotional content of the story. And the rest of it, the colorful period details, are interesting to them in another way.”
He spoke about the perennial themes of the story — the search for love, acceptance, and individuality — that have given Tales life throughout the decades. And while the LGBT community has made great strides in making the world a better place for youth, there is still much work to be done, he says, and still a great need for voices that provide hope and support.
“Sadly, there’s still young people who need to know that they have a place in the world where they can live their lives as freely as they want. And that’s the simple message of Tales. Find your own family. Find your logical family if your biological family is not accepting you,” he said, in a nod to a saying from Anna Madrigal, one of the most prominent transgender characters in LGBT literature.
Maupin is married to a younger man — Christopher Turner, a photographer and the owner of DaddyHunt.com. Their relationship, as well as his past friendships and mentorships by older gay men, has given him an acute understanding of the importance of encouraging dialogue between gay men of different age groups.
“I live with a man who has celebrated older gay men in his own work, so perhaps I have a rosier vision of things than others do,” he says. “But we gay elders have a place in the world, and sometimes, it’s even sexual! And people need to know how to step forward and claim that.”
“We’ve learned things in the struggle that are useful,” he adds about the role of older men in a youth-obsessed culture. “When I was a young gay man, Christopher Isherwood was my mentor. And he and his partner, Don Bachardy, who was 30 years his junior, held dinner parties at their house in L.A. Almost every week, I find some instance where, OK, now you’re in the position of the 70-year-old gay man with a younger partner, and how do you behave toward these younger people who are here with you today? How do you represent for them?”
Maupin, who is famous for telling stories of ’70s San Francisco, revealed he has continued this tradition of mentorship with a group of men who are bringing tales to a new generation.
“We got together for a movie night with the cast of Looking the other night,” he confided.
“Oh, wow,” this reporter exclaimed. “That’s what I said!” he said with a laugh.
Read the rest of the list here