Can We All Get Along?
Saturday, March 5, 2016 2 PM – 4 PM
Berkshire Athenaeum Conference Room
1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield
Four Rainbow Seniors women will lead us in a conversation about the gender separation that has sometimes troubled the LGBTQ movement. They will relate how they experienced the sometimes rocky relationship between our men and our women and will lead us in a discussion of how each of us experienced it — or didn’t. Was the historical separation inevitable? Does it continue to this day? What can we as LGBTQ people do to keep our relationships strong?
For this second meeting in Pittsfield, the panel particularly welcomes women of the Berkshires to join us. You can help explore ideas and illuminate the issues that will strengthen Rainbow Seniors into a group that is integrated, respectful, fun, and fascinating. We value all voices and perspectives.
Coming up at Images in Williamstown is the stunning – if controversial – film The Danish Girl. As is the usual case in the Berkshires, being an LGBT film, it never played at our commercial cinemas which is why we are all thankful for our two “art” houses, Images and The Little Cinema . The Danish Girl will have a decent run at Images in Williamstown beginning Friday, February 19, 2016 and will run to Feb. 25. Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander give powerful performances and both have been nominated for Oscars. The film’s creation was inspired by Lili Elbe, a transgender woman who was one of the first people to receive sex reassignment surgery.
As Brian T. Carney writes in the Washington Blade, “Eve Stewart and Michael Standish were also nominated for Production Design and Paco Delgado was nominated for Costume Design. Director Tom Hooper and Screenwriter Lucinda Coxon were not recognized and the film did not receive a Best Picture nomination. Other LGBT movies fared even worse. Even though Best of Enemies was short-listed in the Best Documentary category, it did not receive a nomination. Likewise Viva and The Club, both of which were short-listed for Best Foreign Language Film, were shut out. – See more on the Oscars and how people of color and LGBT’s fared at the Washington Blade.
Since the film’s initial release last Fall, both it, and the 2000 Ebershoff novel upon which it is based, have received some critical attention for their notable deviations from historical fact. Ebershoff has stated that he did not intend for the book to be an accurate representation of the facts, and that much of the content of his novel – particularly in his characterization of Lili and of Gerda – had instead been fabricated for creative reasons.
As a critic I follow the reviews of LGBTQ films with interest, and as you might gather, even queer critics rarely agree. A number of gay male critics loved the film, but others were not so easy to dazzle.
Ren Jender, who writes in Bitch Flicks strips away the artifice and addresses the inaccuracies: “This film fails on so many levels, it’s hard to pick any one aspect, but Eddie Redmayne deserves special mention. A man in a dress playing a trans women is always objectionable, but Redmayne is so woefully miscast in this role, I’ll go to any protest of the awards he will probably be nominated for. (The film’s central figure) Lili Elbe was one of the first people to undergo gender affirming surgery and the toast of Paris, going to parties and modeling for Gerda in the latest, revealing fashions but Redmayne’s Lili is a whispery, skittish, drag queen full of shame (at least at first) who wears matronly dresses that come up to the neck and stretch down nearly to the ankle. Other trans woman pioneers (in the US, a generation after Elbe) were not shy, retiring or ashamed: think of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Read more of Ren’s thoughts at Bitch Flicks.
Nevertheless, The Advocate named it one of the top films of the year, and Eddie Redmayne himself thought deeply about his responsibilities as an actor: ““When I began preparing for this role and I heard statistics like 41 percent of trans people have considered suicide, learned about the amount of abuse that continues to occur, or the discrimination that’s still legal in so many states — it’s extraordinary. I wanted to know why we aren’t talking more about this,” he says. “What I suppose I’m trying to do is learn to be an ally to the community because I feel it’s important for cisgender people to be allies.” (More)
Redmayne hopes The Danish Girl will inspire cisgender people who may have limited knowledge of transgender issues to begin their own expanded education. Thanks to Images for doing just that.
Images Cinema is located at 50 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA 01267
UPDATE: Some of us weren’t too sure about how a discussion on gay sex would go when the Rainbow Seniors got together today for their monthly potluck. Talking about the latest LGBTQ books, films and entertainment over a delicious potluck lunch, the time to confront the subject of love and sex later in life arrived when this video was shown on a laptop:
While most of our members skew a bit younger than this mixed group of seniors, they had no hesitation to launch into the subject. But before the short clip had played out, the laptop went “pop” and fell silent, obviously gobsmacked that the subject of love and sex late in life was even being broached by us. Inside a church. And we were laughing about it.
But the conversation between the seniors took off for one of the most interesting, personal, down-to-earth discussions to date, and we all emerged from the packed library refreshed in spirit, and happy for our new connections. We can’t tell you what was said, once the door was closed, since we agreed that everything said inside our meeting room remains inside that room.
The next meeting in Williamstown at the First Congregational Church will be noon on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (Third Tuesday of the month as usual.)
It’s a potluck lunch, so bring something to share and be ready for some interesting conversation. We have no idea what will be served up – nobody can predict the menu nor the topic – but it’s pretty much guaranteed that a good time will be had by all.
Some folks from our first Pittsfield meeting made the trek to Williamstown, just as some North County folks helped kick off the Pittsfield gathering which take place on the first Saturday of the month. The next one is March 5, 2016 from 2-4pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield. Head to the conference room, and here it’s not a potluck, just a few refreshments that are passed around. The early birds get the prime seats around the big conference room table.
If you are not on our e-mail list yet, send Ed a note at email@example.com or give him a call at 413-441-6006.
Gay plays are a rarity in the Berkshires. So here’s some good news.
Yesterday the 10×10 New Play Festival at Barrington Stage Company began its fifth annual Smörgåsbord of short plays which plays to Feb. 28 at the St. Germain Theatre on Linden Street in Pittsfield. Included are two slices of life of special interest to Rainbow Seniors of the Berkshires, not to mention a whole bunch more on mainstream topics that are just as delightful. They are The Book of Ruth by Joseph Samuel Wright which is set in a town very much like the one above in Fentress County, Tennessee. It’s the late 1920’s and Ruth returns from Knoxville with a plan how she and her friend, Grace, can escape from the prying eyes of everyone in town. Directed by John Miller-Stephany and starring Madison Micucci as Grace and Kelley Rae O’Donnell as Ruth, the question is whether to stay or leave.
In the oddly titled Turtles and Bulldogs by Scott C. Sickles, and again directed by Miller-Stephany could be a bromance, or something more. Collin (Matt Neely) bumps into Barney (Andrew May), the guy he had a crush on in high school…thirty-five years later…at the cemetery. They have some catching up to do. – Larry Murray
Rainbow Seniors of the Berkshires has chosen the Taylor Mac show in Williamstown as its first major group outing, and 24+ folks are making tracks with us for the ’62 Center show. (Please arrive early to pick up your reserved ticket – general seating.) The unusual and entertaining show promises to be a blend of history, music, performance art and drag. The evening covers three decades of great American music, part of a larger, marathon 24 decade show that will eventually be undertaken by the tireless and over the top actor-singer Taylor Mac.
In preparing for the now distant historic visit to the 1770-80-90’s the star of the show visited Vermont – in full costume – as you will see in this video made for an earlier performance at Dartmouth.
What Taylor Mac is doing is reclaiming our Queer history which had been hidden from view for far too long, with the possible exception of Walt Whitman. In our popular music, we find many subtle and coded messages, some dating back to the severe Colonial times when procreation was virtually mandatory. He explains his quest in the video as well. There will be a longer Taylor Mac show focusing on another era, the music of the mid to late 1800’s at Mass Moca in the Spring. This will be a six hour show which will require a certain degree of endurance, even with the museum’s “come and go” setup. The group will decide if it is worth seeing. With the lack of consistent gay entertainment in the Berkshires, these events are too precious to pass up.
Group outings will take place periodically over the four seasons of the year, with some outdoor oriented fun as the weather improves. Suggestions from you are always welcome since the greater the variety of activities, the better for our community of Rainbow Seniors.