Before You Know It

In Harlem, Portland, and Galveston, several LGBTQ seniors navigate the adventures, challenges, and surprises of their “golden years.”

Before you know it 01
America ReFramed
Premiere Date
June 30, 2015
120 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Diversity Development Fund
Raval pj filmmaker bio

Paul James Raval

Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2006” and Out Magazine’s “100 Out 2010,” PJ Raval discovered film and video after working with photography and media installation art. Raval’s previous documentary, Trinidad, co-directed by Jay Hodges and acquired by Showtime and MTV's Logo, uncovers Trinidad, Colorado’s transformation from Wild West outpost to “sex change capital of the world,” and follows three influential transgender women who may steer the rural ranching town toward becoming the “transsexual mecca.” Raval’s cinematography credits include the Academy Award-nominated documentary Trouble the Water, Kyle Henry’s forthcoming FourPlay, Independent Spirit Award-nominated Room, and the Los Angeles Film Festival Narrative Feature Award winner, Gretchen.

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The Film

According to research conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, there are an estimated 2.4 million lesbian, gay, or bisexual Americans over the age of 55. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) seniors are five times less likely to access social services than their heterosexual counterparts, half as likely to have health insurance coverage, twice as likely as straights to live alone, and 10 times less likely to have a caretaker should they fall ill.

In response to the inequities in care and resources, LGBTQ seniors have turned to each other for a solution. Some have organized to build or buy physical retirement facilities, others have worked within their cities and neighborhoods to create a network of support. The different retirement communities are as diverse as the people who make them up. Set against the backdrop of three unique retirement communities, Before You Know It captures the experiences of several LGBTQ seniors as they navigate the adventures, challenges, and surprises of their “golden years.”

Tracing a year in the lives, and a lifetime of experiences, the film confronts the realities of aging in the LGBTQ community. While the film may not present a solution to the many challenges facing our LGBTQ elders, by giving them a voice, society will be forced to include them in a dialogue.