Village Elders

Village Elders

by Penny Coleman
     
 

In this remarkable photodocumentary, Penny Coleman captures the faces and memories of the senior statesmen and—women of the gay and lesbian community: a community that calls Greenwich Village—haven to the unorthodox and site of the famous Stonewall riots—its actual or symbolic home.

In vivid detail, Village Elders describes what it was like

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Overview

In this remarkable photodocumentary, Penny Coleman captures the faces and memories of the senior statesmen and—women of the gay and lesbian community: a community that calls Greenwich Village—haven to the unorthodox and site of the famous Stonewall riots—its actual or symbolic home.

In vivid detail, Village Elders describes what it was like "back then" and how it is today for the gender outlaws whose lives and loves have challenged convention and precipitated one of the most profound social revolutions of the twentieth century. Through Coleman's incisive portraits and interviews, the faces and personalities of these unique individuals spring off the page with all their vitality, humor, desire, and courage intact.

The largely uncharted history that emerges in this "family album" bears witness to a social landscape that has changed radically during the lives of these narrators. Growing up in a society that viewed homosexuality as an illness or a perversion, these elders led revolutionary lives, often in spite of themselves. Lacking support groups and community centers, hounded by the threat of arrest, job loss, eviction, and exposure, they fought to establish physical and emotional sanctuaries and to preserve their sense of self (and their sense of humor). Now twice removed from the mainstream, their lives reflect both the complexities of gender and the richness of age.

Transgressive, intimate, and moving, Village Elders documents a vital and articulate presence, a community of survivors that refuses to be silent and invisible, to be asexual, or to disappear.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"It takes a village to raise a child" is nearly scriptural at this point. But villages need elders as well, a point mostly lost on the gay community. Demographics and the need for social continuity are changing that perception. The importance of elders is not lost on Coleman, an independent photographer, in her aptly named book of photographic portraits paired with short essays capturing the spirit of subjects. The intended pun of her title will not be lost on savvy readers, but there are New Yorkers here from outside Greenwich Village as well as from that neighborhood, long a gay mecca. The 25 profiles represent the ethnic, racial, and economic variety of the community and illustrate the wonderful way in which the human spirit thrives in periods of oppression. Coleman's generous spirit is clear: she gave her subjects carte blanche in choosing their photographs and nearly complete editorial control of the essays. This is a great little book with large content. Highly recommended.--David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780252025525
Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
Publication date:
07/28/2000
Pages:
168
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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What People are saying about this

Urvashi Vaid
Village Elders proves the truth that profound social change is so often the by-product of daily acts of individual courage.
—(Urvashi Vaid, director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)
Ana Oliveira
A moving testimony to the survival, resilience, and wisdom that permeates the lives in our communities. . . . As diverse as our Village Elders are, so are their contributions, strength, and power of example to us.
—(Ana Oliveira, executive director of GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis))
Rose Dobrof
Penny Coleman's Village Elders combines inspiration and substance in a wonderful way, illuminating the infinite variety of people who too frequently are defined solely in terms of their gender. . . . [This is] a book that all who are interested in the human condition should read.
—(Rose Dobrof, Brookdale Center on the Aging, Hunter College, New York)
Terry Kaelber
Penny Coleman's written and photographic portraits are a tour de force--a celebration of life lived in all its diversity. . . . This book is truly a treasure.
—(Terry Kaelber, executive director of SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment))

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