The image of the bitchy, bitter old queen has long fascinated British filmmaker Vincent Beasley.
When Beasley realised that this year the first of the baby boomer generation would be turning 60, he wondered how much their attitudes about older gay men had changed.
He also wondered how the image of mature gay men had changed, not only among the broader community but also through the different generations of gay society.
Beasley is now calling on the community’s help to answer his question for a documentary he is making.
For years, there has been this image and fear of the bitter old queen and how there was nothing worse, Beasley says.
Then there is this image of the young, buffed and beautiful gay man. But there is such a huge gulf in between.
I want to find out how gay men feel about ageing, and their attitudes towards the elderly of the community. I want to see in what ways views have changed, and in what ways they have haven’t.
It was facing his own feelings about ageing that brought Beasley from London to Sydney last year to begin work on the project.
I suddenly found I had got to my mid-40s, I was unhappy in London and I was having a mid-life crisis, he says.
I wanted an adventure, to live abroad for a while and to study again. Whatever I wanted to do, I knew I could do here as there is a big enough gay scene. That’s when I decided to do an MA in Creative Arts and came up with the idea for this documentary.
Beasley has previously worked in London as a BBC producer on TV specials for Ruby Wax, Barry Humphries and Clive James, as well as on the groundbreaking That Gay Show.
Over the coming months he plans to seek out and interview subjects, then in September will commence production on the film. He plans to premiere the finished documentary during the 2007 Mardi Gras festival season.
I want to interview people of all ages for this, he says.
I want to talk to the 18-year-old who is just coming out and is looking forward to their whole life ahead of them, through to the person who is 80 and has had a wonderful life and lived in the bosom of the gay community.
So many studies before about ageing have been from a sociological point of view, in terms of social services and medical care. There is nothing about how people feel and think about their lives. That is what I want to do.
Vincent Beasley is keen to speak with gay men of all ages for his documentary. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.