I give a damn because it took me my entire life until now to have the courage to be fully out. Fully out means no fudging if someone asks me if I’m lesbian. It’s difficult because I am physically fragile. I ride a wheelchair and can only walk short distances.
I knew I was different when I was in grade school because I had crushes on girls not boys. In fact I physically drove off the boys that were interested in me. But I digress.
At 64, in a wheelchair, something made me have the courage to come out. It was the Trevor Project. I started thinking that if I could make a difference by showing kids that I was equal with the difficulties I have, maybe they could live instead of commit suicide. I give a damn about all the kids out there who are going through what I went through. Being an outcast from society. Having to “act normal.” Not having a group of peers to hang out with. Knowing that you weren’t equal, not really. Well, you are equal. I am equal. We have the same rights as everybody else and soon there will be laws that say so. It’s a pity that we have to have laws to make people be fair and honest. But at least there are enough fair and honest people in the world that the laws will be passed. I give a damn about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality because it’s right. Not just because it benefits me.
I’ll be 65 in a couple of days. I’m back in college working on a Master’s Degree. It just happens to be a Christian college. The saving fact about the college is that my course is totally online. I don’t have to face myself and come out to my classmates. I was out at the college where I got my BA. It made no difference, half the theatre people were gay.
My girlfriend and I are not blatant about our relationship. We don’t hide it either. We just are ourselves around most people.
When I graduate from this course I’m taking there is a strong suggestion that I show up for graduation. I have a wonderful enrollment counselor who has walked me through the start of classes. He is strongly Christian. I don’t know how he’ll react to me being gay/lesbian.
Then there is work. I will have a chunk of student loan money to repay. Getting a job will be paramount in my future. I don’t want to go back in the closet. I am enjoying life too much.
I give a damn because there is an issue about coming and being out and there shouldn’t be. I want to live my life as myself not as some pretense.
I am a 53 year old transgender woman, and have lived as a woman since the age of sixteen. I’ve experienced just about every type of discrimination possible. When I first started my transition the subject of transgender was not even discussed. There was no internet to connect to others. There were no clinics or support groups for us to turn to. No doctors to treat us. We were totally alone and had to hide who we were. Every day was a battle for survival. We literally risked our lives every time we went into public. Only the strongest could survive. Things have gotten better, but we still have a very long way to go. I am a fighter and will continue to fight for our right to live as human beings. Please join the fight with me so that all of us can live a productive life in society.
I am seventy-one years old. I am female and I grew up in a very small town in Appalachia. My parents gave me to an aunt and uncle when I was three years old. I grew up in poverty, across the street from a Baptist Church and next door to the pastor. I can’t remember when I didn’t know I was gay; and I can’t remember being told anything except it was wrong.
I lived in a tiny closet of my own making, I told no one else. I never even heard the word ‘lesbian’ until I was 18. I tried very hard to conform. When I was twenty-one I met a bisexual woman. We had an almost ‘innocent’ relationship. I was fired from my job as a stenographer in a mental health clinic when our relationship was revealed. She attempted suicide and received treatment for depression. Think about that, I was fired for being gay from a Mental Health clinic!
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and buried myself in the straight community. I met a wonderful man, and grew to love him. He asked me to marry him and I told him about my ‘gay’ life and he said it didn’t matter. He loved me and I certainly loved him. After 16 years and one child, we got a divorce. Although I had been 100% faithful to him, he had not been so with me. He remarried within weeks of our divorce. I buried myself in the ‘gay’ life.
After four years as a ‘player’ my company was sold and the new company moved me to Nashville, TN. I began to question my life choices. I wanted to be married, I didn’t like the life of a ‘player’. I withdrew into myself and spent a whole year without having sex.
Then I met a wonderful woman who was also closeted. I was her first lesbian lover and her last. We have been together for 27 years now. We went to an attorney and had durable powers of attorney drawn up, wills made and wear rings. We are married at least in our own minds. My grandchildren call her Nana and although we have never ‘come out’ (at least until now), we haven’t really tried to hide our relationship. Both sets of my parents died without knowing and that’s okay. My siblings know and for the most part accept us as a couple. One of her sisters acknowledges us as a couple, the others never got the chance.
Being gay has nothing to do with being a good person and should have nothing to do with having a good life. I now have a good life and wish every struggling young person could also have one. It has been a long painful road to get here but it was worth the journey. I wish no one else would ever have to endure the pain of the journey but just be themselves and be happy.
Close to three decades ago I went to live with my father to West Hollywood, California. There I learned that my father was openly gay and that the grand majority of his friends and neighbors were gay as well.
While I was getting adjusted to a new life, I noticed that my father took time off from his business to help some of his friends. A few streets south of his business a gay mature couple were having difficulty keeping up with their business and sustaining themselves. My father used to visit them and help with anything needed in their establishment.
I asked my father why it was so important to help them and he said;
“A long time ago these two man decided to love each other and decided to share their lives together. Because they loved each other, having children was not an option. Their families abandoned them because they could not accept who they were and who they loved. Their situation is different and needs to be addressed and respected “.
I got very upset and quiet. My father asked me what I was feeling in that moment. I just told him that I was upset at their family for not caring. All I could see was two old men abandoned.
My father then asked, are you ready to help too? I asked, “But what can I do?” From that moment on, all we did was to help others in the community in the same situation. I remember visiting many of his friends who needed a hand because of aging issues or abandonment.
I lost my father in 2001 to AIDS. I am sad he is not here with me, but I am happy that I learned the reality and issues that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
I love you Dad!
The following video is an overview of the unique needs and challenges facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caregivers, from SAGECAP (SAGE Caring and Preparing), a program of our friends Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).
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- Learn more about Older Adults
My brother is now in his late 50’s and is finally out. He lived a tough life of denial. A failed straight marriage. Many wrong employment turns. He was even homeless for awhile. I’m a few years younger than my brother, and I am a straight man. I knew my brother was gay, yet he would not admit it to himself, and was afraid to come out to our family.
It never mattered to me. My love for him, and my wishing that he would become the person I always knew that was inside of him never stopped. When I saw the place where he was living, (a horrid section of north Philadelphia), I contacted him and asked if he’d like to get out of the city. He did.
I have an uncle who lives in a beautiful, scenic part of the US. Deep in the heart of the Ozarks, in Arkansas. I contacted my uncle and explained my worry for my beloved brother. I asked my uncle if my brother could move out and stay with him, just to get out of the city. My wonderful uncle agreed. I assisted in funding my brother’s bus trip out to Arkansas, where my brother lives today.
Happy, safe, out, and creating some beautiful artwork.
My concern is for others who have been in denial for years. Whether their families will accept the truth when a person comes out, and including their gay/lesbian loved ones in family functions.
It hurts to see how my brother is treated by several members of my family, now that he has come out.
I will always leave an open door in my house for him, just as my heart will always be there for him.
I am in my 60s and knew I was “different” since I was a small child. I tried to follow the expected path for someone growing with typical Midwestern values – married three times – had four children – lived the lie.
When I turned 30 I realized I could no longer deny my true identity and “came out.” I was fortunate to then live in a place that was more tolerant than I imagined. It was so freeing to drop the facade and just be who I was born to be.
For the next 30 years I was openly a lesbian; had a partner for several years; lived in peace with myself and others.
During my 62nd year I had to move, out of necessity, to another part of the country.
I now live in a Senior’s community in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania. I am surrounded by nice folks, all seniors like myself, who are quick to express their feelings that homosexuals are sinners bound for hell, etc.
I am, once again, “back in the closet.” I need this housing and it is a matter of self-preservation. It sucks!
My greatest desire is to see equality for ALL before I die.
Thank you for all your efforts to make that happen.
The following is an excerpt from a story by Reuters:
“Germany’s highest court has ruled a law which makes homosexuals living in civil partnerships pay higher inheritance tax is unconstitutional.
“The Federal Constitutional Court said there were no legal grounds for taxing gay people who lost their partner differently from heterosexual married couples, and gave the government until 2011 to compensate those subject to the previous rules.
“The Karlsruhe-based court said on Tuesday the fact that heterosexual marriage could produce children did not justify higher taxation for homosexuals over inheritance.
“Germany has permitted civil unions for homosexuals since 2001. According to the law, surviving partners had to pay higher inheritance duties, and were also granted a lower tax exemption threshold than their heterosexual counterparts.
“Depending on the inheritance, homosexuals have been subject to a rate of taxation that could be up to 20 percentage points higher than heterosexual widows or widowers.
“The thresholds were evened out in 2008, though so far the government has only put forward a draft bill to render both sets of couples equal before the law on taxation, the court said.
“It was responding to an appeal lodged by a man and a woman whose respective partners had died in 2001 and 2002.”
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We posted earlier this summer about Clay Greene and his late partner Harold Scull. Here is an update on their story.
The following are excerpt from a story by The San Francisco Chronicle:
“Clay Greene, a 78-year-old gay man, said Sonoma County forced him and his 88-year-old partner into separate nursing homes, denied the couple’s relationship, sold off their possessions and kept them apart until the partner died.
“The county denied violating the men’s rights. But on Friday, Greene’s lawyers said the county and a nursing home had agreed to a $653,000 settlement with Greene and the estate of Harold Scull, his partner of 20 years.
“‘This victory sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that those who mistreat elders must be held accountable,’ said attorney Amy Todd-Gher of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, which represented Greene.
“The county said it agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense of a trial. There was no ‘credible evidence of discrimination or misconduct,’ the county Human Services Department said in a statement.
“Scull was hospitalized in April 2008. Greene said his partner fell down the front steps of their Sebastopol home. The county public guardian’s office said Scull accused Greene of domestic violence, an allegation disputed by Greene’s lawyers and a representative of Scull’s estate.
“According to the lawsuit, the public guardian’s office went to court to obtain conservatorship of Scull, whose mental health was deteriorating, and described Greene in court papers as Scull’s roommate, ignoring the powers of attorney both men had signed.
“After moving Scull to an assisted living facility, the guardian’s office had Greene confined in a nursing home, falsely describing him as demented and referring to him in his presence as a ‘crazy old man,’ the suit said.
“County officials proceeded to terminate the men’s lease on their home and auction off all their possessions, including art works, furniture, heirlooms and their bank accounts, the suit said.
“Scull died in August 2008. Greene’s lawyers said the partners never saw one another after they were separated.
“In its statement Friday, the county said Scull had expressed fear about returning home to Greene. The guardian’s office moved him to an adult care facility ‘because of his frailty, and in compliance with his wishes,’ the county said.
“‘The public guardian is, and always has been dedicated to protecting vulnerable seniors who have nowhere else to turn,’ the county said.
“Janette Biggerstaff, executor of Scull’s estate and a longtime friend of the couple, responded that the tragedy that befell them ‘was made worse by the county spreading such terrible lies about Clay.’
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Older adults are already alienated in our society. But gay and transgender seniors face a multitude of unique issues, making them even more marginalized, isolated and vulnerable than their straight peers.