“Open Windows” gives us a view into the lives of older European lesbians

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I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for older women. In the most professional way possible, of course. I mean it! Aging within the lesbian community is one of my favorite subject matters to see tackled, because it reveals so much about our collective past, the now of our trailblazers and, yes, the future of us young thangs. All the better if it’s a perspective we don’t usually see–the non-North American one. That’s what writer/director/producer Michèle Massé has given us with her documentary Open Windows.

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Open Windows showcases the stories of four lesbians (in their own words) in their 70s. Micheline and Jocelyne are a couple living in Paris, while Boti (divorced) and Empar (married) live in Madrid. I’m happy to report none of these women have hung up their lesbian hats, all of them being either in relationships, involved in LGBT activism, or both.

It’s eye-opening to hear from women who grew up not even knowing the term for who it is they are. To know you’re “different,” but not having a word for it? I can’t imagine what that’s like.

Your place in history is everything though. Empar shares that growing up in Francoist Spain there was no literature on homosexuality available. So the relief she felt when she finally realized she was, in fact, a lesbian–well it really puts the value of labels for some into context.

But knowing versus accepting your true self, those are two different beasts. The French couple (who have only been together a few years) are late bloomers in their own ways. Despite a long-term relationship with a woman, Micheline still had trouble coming out well into her sixties. And Jocelyne, well when she found out her own daughter was gay, there was a lot of guilt. But it also served as the catalyst for her decision to come out. Better late than never, right?

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Micheline and Jocelyne are definitely making up for lost time. They’re still in the honeymoon stage and getting sex tips from Blue is the Warmest Color. Seriously.

The topic of sex is a big one in this movie. Ruts, the role of hormones, decreased desire, and making time for sex–these ladies discuss it all.

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Progress, of course, is another biggie. They’ve all seen same-sex marriage become legal in their countries in their lifetime. For Boti the activist, that’s meant divorce as well, which she believes is an important aspect of the normalization of same-sex relationships.

However homophobia still exists and nobody’s negating that. Jocelyne is especially perturbed, worried about reaction on the street and even in her apartment building. She’s also paranoid about ending up in a nursing home and how caregivers will treat her as a known lesbian.

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It’s an adjustment. It’s always an adjustment, and the later you come to it and the harsher your society’s view on it is (past and present), the more difficult it is to adjust. But in their own way, these women are all there.  So kudos to them, and kudos to Massé for allowing us to see into the windows of their lives.

To find out if Open Windows is playing at a festival near you, visit Michèle Massé’s website.

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