Monday, June 13, 2011


We watched a very lovely, very touching documentary last night. Often joyful, sometimes simply heart-wrenching, A Place to Live: The Story of Triangle Square traces the hopes, anxieties and fears of seven gay and lesbian seniors as they look for a safe and welcoming home for their elder years. At the same time, it follows the planning and construction of Triangle Square in Hollywood, the nation's first affordable housing facility for GLBT seniors. Since the supply is at present infinitely smaller than the demand, each one had to go through a rigorous pre-application and screening process and, eventually, the cliff-hanger of the selection process itself.

As you can imagine, many were called--and sadly few could be chosen. We meet our seven, first, in a sketchy biographical introduction and learn, more slowly, about their lives and loves, their families, relationships and bereavements. Born in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the better part of their lives was lived at a time when their sexual orientation was socially beyond the pale or, more likely, just plain criminal. Several had lived for years in the closet, a reluctant stranger to themselves, in marriages that failed to cover for their loneliness and their sense of isolation and rejection. It was an unsafe world, where discovery could lead to ostracism, unemployability, and all too often suicide. And all of this was before the onslaught of the AIDS plague, which left so many men bereft of life-long partners and whole circles of friends.

No wonder, then, that this small group of elders clamored to find a place to live where they would feel safe, accepted, and among peers who had shared the experience of living--and loving--in the shadows. All seven are now alone in their lives, and their loneliness is palpable. The joy of simply knowing that such a place as Triangle Square was coming into existence is written in their faces, in their eyes. It brings a glow of hope into their lives, tinged with the dread that they will not be amongst the chosen. We follow their shifting moods as the building goes up and as they begin the application process; the joy of those who receive their application package in the mail, the stoic disappointment of those who don't. We accompany them as they make a preliminary visit to the site and share their wondrous anticipation that one of these small units will become their home.

On moving day, at last, there are tears from our protagonists on both sides--those moving in, almost disbelieving, to their long dreamed-for safe haven; and those who for one reason or another have not made the cut, and must live with disappointment. It's impossible for one watching this drama from the outside not to share the tears on both sides, and to feel the depth of their emotions. It's a rich human story, plainly told, and one that's guaranteed to grab at the heartstrings. If it were up to me, it would be required watching for all those who persist in dehumanizing their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and denying them the basic rights of which the rest of America is so proud.


m said...

This is a bit off topic Peter, but I wanted to tell you that I saw the 60 minutes segment based on "The Kings Speech," and agree with you that this story of courage, duty and disability was deeply moving and a testimony to a fine man,

Anonymous said...

Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area? Don't miss "A Place to Live- The Story of Triangle Square" on --Channel 9 KQED at 11PM PST--TONIGHT-- A story about what it means to be a gay senior citizen trying to survive on limited resources in America? Visit our site :