Last year we were fortunate to capture a video of Maurice as he presented the story of his life at A Colorful Life series. Those of you who were in the audience will fondly remember his vitality and how excited he was to be in the spotlight and share some of the fascinating adventures he’d had in his 81 years.
With Maurice’s unexpected passing last week that video is even more precious because now we have another way of remembering him and his accomplishments. You can see some of it on YouTube. Goodbye, Maurice, you will be missed!
When I was the Senior Programs Coordinator at Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center, a member of Senior Pride suggested that we start the Colorful Life project in order to preserve our LGBT history and the stories of our elders. With the help of some wonderful volunteers and camerawoman Luanne Withee using Pan Left equipment, we were able to make six videos that are available at Wingspan’s library. Our storytellers were – Richard Zelens, Alta Fly, Hannah Blue Herron, Shellie Lynn, Maurice Grossman and Deitrich Benjamin.
Now this important work will continue under the auspices of StoryArts Group, Inc. an Arizona non-profit (disclaimer, I’m one of the organizers). Our big project, The Adobeland Project, will be a film documentary of the life of Joan “Adobe” Pepper and telling the story of Adobeland, women’s land west of Tucson.
LGBT elders tend to become even more invisible than their straight counterparts. Some are not out, some don’t think that their stories are important, some don’t want to relive painful memories, some are estranged from their families.
The Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project seeks to find and document the lives of old lesbians who were born in the early years of the last century. The lives that they led were difficult and in many way difficult for us, today, to understand. There were no lgbt publications, institutions or even personal examples to help guide their lives. They had to make it up as they went along. We seek to record their oral histories, known here as their herstories, to preserve what will soon be lost when they are all gone.
Let’s keep the stories alive! Please contact me if you or someone you know would be a good candidate for the next Colorful Life.