It was Sigmund Freud who called homosexuality “an arrested stage of development.” Now, a Montreal filmmaker has explored the issue of people from across the Kinsey scale who never quite feel that they have entered adulthood, no matter their age.
The film, Neverbloomers, is an hour-long, first-person account of Sharon Hyman’s own feelings of never sensing maturity, despite hitting the big four-0. The bisexual Hyman taps into her family, friends, mentors and childhood peers to gather opinions on this mysterious thing known as adulthood.
Hyman says she got the idea for Neverbloomers after she successfully carried out a matchmaking coup: her long-time friend, and acclaimed Montreal writer, Joel Yanofsky needed a date. Before she could turn around, Yanofsky and Hyman’s friend were married, had bought a house and had a baby on the way.
“At the time, Joel said to me, ‘No one ever teaches you how to be grown up.’ I thought there was a movie in there for sure.”
Hyman’s research led her to believe that almost everyone feels weirded out by the idea that they have become adults.
“I think everyone feels like a neverbloomer, at least part of the time. We are always comparing our insides to other people’s outsides and falling short in our eyes. But the truth is, the vast majority of us feel like impostors grown-up. Everyone feels like life is one big high-school experience that just never ends.”
Hyman laughs when I suggest her proclamation sounds like that of a stereotypical bisexual Montrealer.
“But it’s true: all of those fears and insecurities, they never go away. But hopefully with inner work – and age – we can cope better with these feelings and gain more perspective and equanimity.”
Hyman says her documentary will have a distinct resonance with queer audiences.
“As one older woman says in the film, the most important thing is to be true to yourself. As my neighbour Marsha so perfectly explains about coming out in the ’70s, she realized it was such a waste of time worrying about what her parents thought, what other people thought. In the end, people have to accept you for what you are. And as long as you’re a good person, to hell with what other people think. And who knows this better than the queer community?”
Hyman’s conclusions say something about what Gen Xers got that their parents didn’t. So much has shifted in terms of societal norms, family structures, marital expectations and employment prospects, it’s no wonder an entire generation feels somewhat lost. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that gay writer Douglas Coupland coined the terms Generation X and slacker.
Hyman says one of her main lessons was about materialism and our culture’s expectations.
“One of the main lessons I learned is that the external trappings of life are not necessarily the things that will make you feel like you have bloomed. At first I felt like a neverbloomer because I don’t have certain trappings that society tells us we need to have to be true adults: marriage, kids, a mortgage, a driver’s licence even. And then I realized that it really is about how you feel inside and what is meaningful to you. Blooming is an internal process, not based on external factors or how society says you should be.”