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Older LGBTs: The invisible population

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  1. Thanks for this article! The majority of adults are over 40 and the LGBT community is no different. But you would never guess it looking at the scene, our organisations, businesses and most of the gay press.

  2. Jean-Paul 9 Jun 2009, 4:47pm

    My personal dream has been to win big in the lotterie and to set up senior residences for the LGBT population.

  3. Brian Burton 9 Jun 2009, 5:56pm

    There must be a vast number of elderly LGBTs in the UK alone and they are every bit as important as young LGBTs. A lot of LGBTs live below the bread-line but are too proud to get help.

  4. I am 66 years old – good pension and good financial reserves with a paid for house(too large) and I have been alone since my partner of 42 years died in 2005.Naturally there are no children.Both my partner’s family and mine could not be less interested indeed I was told that my own family (including multiple divorcees and unmarried cohabiters all hetersosexual of course)told me they disapproved of my life-style and wanted no furthre contact.True I had not bothered with them before my partner’s death to avoid hearing what I got anyway!
    I still have our two old cats but since they are 17 years old now – they’ll soon be gone too.

    I get out and about – cyber-friends and the LGF in Manchester but no-one is really interested in getting to know you really because who wants sex with an OAP?

    So many gay men and women compartmentalise their lives – work and work-mates in an heterosexual environment and friends and sex-partners in a gay environment.Older gay folk largely just get blanked.

    I note that some elderly gay folks go back into the closet – I am not surprised as my own experience is that str8 groups in church or elswhere are more welcoming than gay ones.I try and mix the two amd find that with the srt8 groups even when they know you are gay (the women more than the men)are at ease with you and include you – in gay groups you are just a curiosity largely ignored.

    The most hostile as usual even in old age are the older str8 married guy who knows that you know that he had a lot of continuous gay sex on the side unknown to his wife and kids.If there is one group of bastards I detest it is the gay adulterers who infest the likes of gaydar.They show their cocks before they’ll ever show thier faces and they can never “accomodate”.

  5. As a gay man I genuinely dread getting any older. I have a GP who will not treat me. No dental care since kicked off my National Health Service Dentist list when they discovered a (now deceased) former partner I cared for had HIV/AIDS.

    The local Gay health project where live I used to be run by the Criminal Probation Service as the Local Health Authority took the view ALL gay men were potential criminals and excuded those of us who protested.

    The local Gay Health Project already discriminates against those on incapacity benefit and refuses access to services unless you are the ‘right’? sort of gay person.

    My having attempted suicide previously following a prolonged period of extreme institutional homophobia, the gay health project decline to be supportive, quite astounding given there were FOUR gay male suicides to my knowledge locally last year.

    But what can one expect from an area where both homophobic police & equally homophobic social services have previously turned a blind to gay youth as young as 15yrs old living rough & homeless on the streets

    …but that is a Liberal Democrat run county for you! God help us all if the Tories get back in and reserect the homophobic values of the Thatcher years.

  6. Monkeychops 9 Jun 2009, 9:13pm

    Several reasons to take care of our elderly LGBT folks. Firstly, most have lived life without the freedom we have today and deserve to retire with a bit of bloody peace and stability. Secondly, many may not have children to visit them/look after them, especially if they are in homes where they may not be accepted by others of their generation. Thirdly, a lot of those of retirement age were active is securing our rights, they need to be shown the respect and dignity they deserve.

    Many decisions and choices are taken away from you as a homosexual, the least we can do is ensure that they have the same opportunities in their retirement as everyone else. Moreover, as has been pointed out already, the Peter Pan gay scene is revoltingly ageist, leaving few places to turn. Still, I am encouraged by gendy’s experience with straight church groups, glad to see acceptance is happening somewhere.

  7. I think gendy said “generally” and “more” rather than actually fully accepting. And I don’t understand why we should “accept” people, we should celebrate them! All this gash about “tolerance” is a bit ridiculous in my opinion. As one of those “Peter Panners” I can see how in the hustle and bustle of a good friday night out people and forget to stop and think about older gay people, but that doesn’t excuse the appaling prospects that lie in wait for all of us.

  8. I have to say that as an older gay man – in my late fifties – I haven’t met with any sort of discrimination from the Peter Pans in our community. Sure, I don’t go to their clubs and pubs excepting to help celebrate some rite of passage or other of one of my younger LGBT friends, but I’ve never felt that I’m on the outside of their world looking in, so to speak.

    It probably helps that I’ve no turn for the infantry – grief, who wants sex with a twenty year old (they’re good to look at but rubbish in bed as I found out two years ago when I broke my own rule and had a stand with one: never again, what a disappointment).

    Generally speaking, however, all I’ve ever encountered from the younger members of our comunity is huge ease in the presence of we oldies. They seem to me to be, by-and-large, a tolerant bunch. They don’t expect me to want to be like them or to enjoy exactly the same things which they enjoy. On the odd occassion when the two age groups go out together I am always pleased by the way in which we respect and help each other to enjoy our nights out together.

    Of course they do expect we older people to be more mature and more responsible – to do such things as organising the non-drinking drivers, and making sure that they are happy too, but that’s exactly the same as in the straight world! Surely, with age comes responsibility and looking after our young in, I hope, a non-interfering way (excepting, obviously, where we positively know from our own life experiences that they could come to harm).

    I have no complaints against the current crop of young LGBT people. I’ve always found them to be friendly, outgoing, tolerant and concerned, as most young people are, for the welfare of everybody. I’ve also found them to be a happy bunch of young folk more than willing to help anybody in trouble and to offer a helping hand. Of course, and I acknowledge the fact, there are a few bad apples; but isn’t that the same in any group in our society?

    Nine weeks ago I was invited to attend a private party in a club which I knew catered exclusively to the so-called ‘Peter Pans’ in order to help celebrate the eighteenth birthday of one of my younger gay friends. He was quite insistent that I attend despite knowing that I was a bit of an old fuddy-duddy. I went along to his ‘do’ so as not to offend my young friend (and I mean ‘friend and acquaintance’ not ‘sexual-acquaintance’) and fully intended to retire from the proceedings at a suitably early, but not too insultingly early, hour. However, I had a great time with all his young LGBT and Straight friends and instead of leaving the youngsters to get on with it at about mid-night, as I had originally intended, I partied on with them until four o’clock in the morning. Obviously the party went on for many a long hour after that – as, in my younger days, parties also did for my generation. Obviously, and as you would expect, the music wasn’t to my taste and the sheer noise and exuberance of the young crowd was, I freely admit, quite wearing.

    But I did enjoy myself and I was touched by the manifold kindnesses offered to me by our brilliant and happy youngsters including the fact that, as the oldest person there, I was not allowed to buy one single round of beverages excepting for the round I bought for the birthday boy. When the Birthday Cake was wheeled in the entire crowd demanded that I be the one to say a few words and make our birthday boy blow out his candles. I kept my words exceedingly brief and, I hope, humorous – certainly the crowd kindly laughed at my sallies.

    So, I have to disagree with the nay-sayers here. It is my experience, from such limited contacts as I have with the younger generation, that they are a wonderful group and that the future is safe in their hands. Perhaps some of we older people just can’t accept that we have to grow up and to mature – to learn, in an very unobtrusive way, to care for, but stand back from, our youth; to let our young be young without us. Perhaps we need to learn what it is to be the older ones, to be old, to be wise in our years. Perhaps we have to learn how to do that, how to let go of our youth and how to embrace our age and our accumulated wisdom amongst the new-found freedoms which we fought for so long and so hard. Our youngsters are already taking those newly minted freedoms as their right and that, in my opinion, is the most joyous and wonderful vindication of the all of our years of struggle that I can possibly imagine.

    Let them be young and beautiful, as we were! Let them heedless and carefree, as we had to fight for that right for years! Wasn’t that what we aere fighting for? The right of our young LGBT fellows to grow up in the same ways as their straight friends – heedless and carefree and normal! Freedom for the generations of LGBT people coming up behind us! They have that freedom. We won! Let them enjoy it. I don’t think that they will let us down. In fact, I know that they won’t let us down because I’ve partied with them, had late-night drunken conversations with them, and afternoon sober ones too.

    In the meantime, perhaps we older LGBT people have to learn some new lessons – how to grow old gracefully (or, if you prefer, disgracefully – I’m all in favour of disgraceful ageing) – but now, with our new freedoms, we have to learn how to grow old as LGBT people and because we are the generation that fought for the new freedoms we will be the vanguard, the role model, in that process, also.

    Let us set our youth a good example of how to do it! Let’s show them how to care and how to grow old, for sure as ‘eggs is eggs’ they’ll follow our lead. The fight’s not over for us – it’s just become a different struggle. We have finally won most of the last one – for our general rights in society – and I’m sure we can win the next one: the battle for our rights in our old age.

    Look at what we have achieved so far. It’s hardly going to be a desperate battle for our rights in old age is it? For us, with our youth, and the magnificent LGBT youth of today, behind us (as I know that they are), it’s just a skirmish against an inferior enemy which we can easily win! It’s up to us, we older LGBT people, to lead the way – to be the vanguard – to show the free, well free-er, generations coming up behind us exactly how to be an old, or older, LGBT person. It’s up to us, just as it has been for the last fifty years, to lead the way.

    This our last struggle. Let’s do it!

  9. Monkeychops 10 Jun 2009, 7:00am

    jj – You’ve hit a few nails on the head, but it’s not particularly positive. You need to be more realistic and less fantasist about a pink happy clappy world where everyone loves each other. It’s never going to happen. Being “tolerated” and “accepted” are not nice to feel, I understand that, but then do you “celebrate” Christianity? Islam? do you even accept them? Probably not – after all what have they ever done for you? But yet you demand that they celebrate people like you. These are groups that I “tolerate” simply because they will never see me as equal, so I simply reciprocate the attitudes from those groups that are thrust upon me. As an agnostic, I think blind faith in an invisible entity is pure madness, but there are vast numbers of people following these religions and we have no choice but to cooperate to have a peaceful society. But why the hell should I celebrate a social group that won’t leave me in peace when I’ve done nothing to it? I have no intention of rejoicing in such a narrow minded and discriminating way of life. But, remember, people are diverse and not everyone can like or appreciate everyone else. Therefore, tolerance is what we all have to show – especially if that’s what stops us getting a baseball bat in the face of a Saturday night. Gays would do well to stop self-victimising and face these bigots on a personal level, instead of leaving it all to Peter Tatchell et al. I’ve had many a conversation with highly religious people of different faiths about being gay and it helps break down barriers and nurture understanding.

    I’m also disappointed to see that you’ve twisted gendy’s statement about acceptance by straight people at church into a more negative viewpoint. That he is only “generally” accepted etc. Well why don’t you just see that as a bloody positive change for once, eh? A few years ago he’d have been hounded out of the place. I have never had any abuse from church goers on a personal level, though I am fully aware that they are “tolerating” me as much as I am them. Instead of just lamenting on the negative and playing the victim all the time, just accept it as a good thing and that out there somewhere people are beoming more aware of our feelings and showing support. Especially for gendy who seems to be benefiting from that. This is what happens when you live like Peter Pan, locked a way in some homo-ghetto, far away from real life and the diversity that goes with it. I’ve barely ever faced any prejudice in my life for being gay, but that’s because I tend not to live in my own pinnk bubble and cry about the rough hand of cards I’ve been dealt. You’re whingeing about this, yet the whole point of this thread was to show that senior LGBT citizens are suffering some of the worst isolation and discrimination. so maybe you can suggest how we might help them solve that problem??

  10. Monkeychops 10 Jun 2009, 7:07am

    John M. J. – great to see such a positive story. It is also testament to your character that you have taken on the apparent challenges of older LGBT people by making yourself included via your own efforts. It’s that attitude that separates you from many others on here who are determined to prove that the world is somehow coming to an end and they are victims no matter what they do. Good for you, hope to see things going your way for longer.

  11. The sad thing is most of us are going to end up in this sitation. There willbe a huge rise in the aged population due to the 1950s/60s baby boom and now they tell us the NHS will need several billions to get it through to 2011! Its time to plan now!

  12. I live in Anchor Trust supported housing. We have a LGBT group for staff and tenants. We are consulted on our needs and there is partnership working between us. Anchor is very positive on equalities and diversity.

  13. gendy said:
    >no-one is really interested in getting to know you really because >who wants sex with an OAP?

    Me! Me! Me! – and lots more like me! Sure the inhabitants of your local twinkie bar and the usual gayblah websites will make you feel like an alien – but there are many bars, clubs, saunas and websites devoted to mature men and their admirers.

    My website, GrayGay.com, is a free resource for mature gay men and their admirers – with the latest news plus the GrayGay Guide to places that welcome them worldwide and extensive reviewed and rated links.

  14. Really enjoyed this article. Goes to show how much of the LGBT population is always at a social disadvantage, to whatever degree. We get a raw deal in many areas of life due to shamfull ignorance and intolerance – but you know what, I wouldnt change my sexuality for the world!

  15. Thank-you kindly, Monkeychops. You got my point.

  16. Monkeychops 11 Jun 2009, 7:44am

    JM – No need to thank me, you’re the one who said everything. What I like about your account is that you are much more balanced with your views than many on here. You have outlined some of the pitfalls, but equally you’re not wallowing in self-pity and have embraced the more positive aspects of your life today. Anon, on the other hand, has brought in the violins again, droning on about how everyone is so homophobic and out to get him. This kind of paranoia is unhelpful – and it’s not going to make others confident that their lives will get better. We are all born in the same boat more or less and it’s your own character and intelligence that gets you out of the mess a lot of the time. Hence why Ben Bradshaw is in the cabinet, but other gays are bitching down at the Admiral Duncan. Somewhere along the line, there is a bit of Darwinism involved. And that makes the chances for gays the same as anyone else’s.

  17. Monkeychops seems to be of the opinion that…

    If you are a rape victim…its your own fault.
    If you are a mugging victim…its your own fault
    If you are a victim of homophobia…its your own fault!

    I guess Monkeychops is of the opinion Charles De Menezes being shot in the head deserved it as it was his own fault?
    or that newspaper salesperson, how dare he walk home past police officers with riot gear, he must surely have deserved to die!

    Monkeychops. You had best tell Micheal Causers family it was his own fault he was murdered for being gay!

    Until one has experienced the truely brutilising impact, traumatic & violating nature of compounded institutional homophobia you can have no idea of its vileness!

  18. Monkeychops 11 Jun 2009, 11:40am

    Anon – Christ alive, why a bitter diatribe? And what makes you think you have to go through something to appreciate how bad it is? I’ve never been starving on an Ethiopian plain, but I can bloody well understand the effects of it. You’ve also overlooked the fact that I am also gay – why would I want to be murdered? I don’t think I deserve to be, either because of my sexuality or because of the fact that I am a good person.

    Enough with the self-victimising, attention-seeking and desire for pity. You just look like a fool – and a bully (but then I guess the bullied become the bullies in the end). You’ve just slandered me, made a huge list of assumptions about what my opinions MIGHT be on some things are completely irrelevant. You think you have a monopoly on suffering do you? Well, you’re not the only one. As someone who has suffered a rape – and a pretty gruesome one – I can tell you that it wasn’t my own fault and no I didn’t deserve it. Like everyone else who has been through that. But, I’m not playing the victim – what’s the point? I don’t believe that every man is a potential rapist just because one did that to me – from the kind of things you have said, then you maybe would. Do you really fear people that much?

    And what the hell does Charles de Menezes have to do with this? It was one of the grossest miscarriages of justice that has hit our police force. And even then, we still don’t really know all the facts. But that doesn’t mean all police are out to get you, does it? It’s like saying I think Jill Dando deserved to be shot for being on TV. How the hell does your mind work? It’s just sick! Seriously man, you are one paranoid android and making such irrational, slanderous comments in such a nasty manner is not going to make people like you. Differences of opinion are always going to be around on sites like this and they are worth debating, but spitting such bile with unfounded accusations will just make people shun you.

    You are trying to make out that homophobic bullying, Michael Causer-style murders and such like are the “norm” and that they have happened to everyone. They are significant, but not quotidien incidents, so let’s not sensationalise when it’s not necessary. Does every gay man get stabbed on his way home from a pub? No, or there’d be none left would there? People like you just make the rest of the world panic unnecessarily. No-one is trying to deny that you have had a rough time of it, I’m sure you have, but your experiences are not the only ones that gay people have been through. And trying to make me feel guilty for criticizing your negative attitude is just childish, so just stop it now, because I don’t. Some, like John M.J. have more enlightening accounts, which are far more encouraging. And even then, he has also pointed out the problems at the same time, whilst still showing positivity. You are the polar opposite – desperate to remain a victim for the sake of sympathy. No-one deserves ill-treatment for being gay, but people who lament on the negative and bleat on about hard done by they are will only tire people out. Particularly those we are trying to get on our side. Think about moaning colleagues – they may have a good point about their crap jobs, but people distance themselves because they don’t want to be worn down by the misery. Can you understand that? This is just what you are doing. And then when criticized, you’ve thrown your toys out of your pram.

    Do you have nothing positive to say about life? About the progress that has been made? You obviously want everyone to have suffered awful things to be able to justify this bitterness of your life until now, but it ain’t going to happen. Going through awful experiences is shit, but you are only a victim when you let these things ruin your life. Rape aside, I’ve been through my own crap thanks very much however I like to live in reality. And that reality is getting better. Be a statistic if you want, that’s your choice. But leave the vicious attacks out until you have evidence to support your screwed-up claims.

  19. Monkeychops 11 Jun 2009, 11:57am

    PS Incidentally, where do you actually live? You say it’s a Libe Dem-run Council (based on this week’s election, that would be Bristol area, right?). If there are so many problems in terms of discriminating doctors, dentists, even Gay Help organizations…..then why not just bloody move? Perhaps that sounds selfish and not really supporting the wider cause, but if your quality of life is so bad, then you have to think of yourself. What are the other experiences of other gay people in this area? Anyone else on this forum from the same place as anon? It does seem that everyone, in your view, is to blame except yourself. And I’m afraid that it might be that your attitude is a factor in the situation you have ended up in.

  20. Bishop Ioan 11 Jun 2009, 4:53pm

    This is, I think, an important issue for our community to address. GIven the rapid aging of society in the short run, due to the Baby Boom, there are a lot of BB LGBTQ people out there, the oldest of whom are already past 65 and the youngest of whom are now in their late 40s. I am in the middle myself and whilst my spouse has uncategorically said that she will NOT place me in an old-age home, there are many of our seniors out there who are either facing having to move into old-age homes or are already there.

    I am not surprised that many older LGBTQ people are either back in the closet or have never left it. I have worked in a number of old age home over the years and yes, there is homophobia, but hell, there is homophobia everywhere. I think this will change as the now-young people begin to age. Another thought is to see if LGBTQ old age homes can be established. I know there are a few here in the States. For LGBTQ people who need help and cannot afford care in their own homes, something along the lines of an assisted-care community might be an option. There are old-age homes for military personnel, homes for those of a particular religious belief, so why not one for LGBTQ people?

    I think that ageism is less of a problem than when I came out in the early 1970s. Back then, it was said that a gay man was past his prime by his late 20s. Yes, I am sure there are those who wouldn’t dream of being with an older LGBTQ person, but I have seen a lot of older LGBTQ couples–and LGBTQ people with older spouses. This may be because yes, we have lost a lot of my generation to AIDS, but there are still a lot of us left and the aging process goes on, adding more people each year. However, I am about to turn 56 and this decade has been one of the best of my life. I met and married somone 23 years my junior a couple of years ago–something I could not have imagined happening. After years of wondering if there might even be someone for me, I decided to “let go” and “go with the flow” and well, I’ve been happily married almost 2 years now.

    I think oder LGBTQ people have a lot to be optomistic about. In the past 40 years, we have seen progress that was probably undreamed-of back when the Stonewall riots occured. I was 16 at the time and came out three years later, but I could never have dreamed of marrying someone legally–it just didn’t exist as an option anywhere back then. The fact that marriage equality is becoming a reality in more and more places as time goes on is a definite positive development. Sure, we have a long ways to go, but like the old commercial said: “You’ve come a long way, baby”.

    Homophobia is something we will likely always have to fight, but I believe that as a younger, better-educated and more tolerant, we will see homophobia becoming less and less prevalent. So, like Monkeychops, I think that we have a great deal to be optomistic about.

  21. Brian Burton 15 Jun 2009, 7:13am

    Ay! It’s a great life if you don’t weaken Jimmy!

  22. The secret of everything is just being yourself and shaming the devil, but not being ridiculous. You don’t go the youth club so why go to the night clubs; go somewhere where you are going to enjoy what’s going on.

    You don’t spend your whole time being gay but you shouldnt be closeted – if you go to church or the fishing club or the DIY class, always let on that you are gay before they start making other and worse assumptions. Coming out isn’t what you do once in your teens and twenties, it goes on and on and on, and know what, the more people you tell, the more they give you some respect for your forthrightness and your willingness to speak.

    You may not hook any more sex partners but your life will be full of people who get on with you. And, who knows, someone else there may admire you so much for your courage that they come out too. Sex you can get, buy it, go to the dark room in the sauna, go to London every now and then and vist the Quebec, it’s easy.

    What is the real problem is what happens when you are infirm, when you can’t get out. We really do need to begin seriously to campaign for elder gay care homes. I’ve heard of lots of srat up but very little uin the way of an ongoing campaign. It has to be done by active older gay men and older lesbians. that may mean some of the older gay guys losing their prejudices (all too common) against woemn!

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