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This is another article which I wrote back in the late eighties and which surfaced during a tidying up of my faithful old Amstrad PCW word processor. Reading it, I think it still sums up my attitude pretty well. On the whole the fifteen years since I wrote it have been happy and fulfilling. I am most definitely not a bitter old queen and see no warning signs that this dreadful fate awaits me. I still share my life with the same guy.
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This year is a big event in my life. First I enter my second half century of being alive, having negotiated the first fifty years with only a few disasters on the way. Secondly, I will shortly enter my second decade of living openly as a Gay man.

The first decade of living as a Gay man began with a kind of personal nuclear explosion. I knew it was coming but, just like a real nuclear explosion, knowing it would happen didn't reduce the damage or the fallout. 

First I lost a job I enjoyed, thanks to my employers sensing very early on, the new spirit of Thatcherism. This was followed by my wife discovering I was gay. A vindictive phone call then enlighted my parents together with my brother and sister. A nasty divorce led to loss of my home, contact with my children and what little money I had saved. My Company car gave way to a battered old Post Office van and I had my first taste of the brutalities of the 'world admired' British Welfare State.

The positive aspects of the situation, however, included learning that you can survive no matter how low you get and facing the fact, for the first time in my life, that I had to stop pretending and accept that being gay isn't the worst thing in the world. I also had the good fortune to meet a man I fell in love with and with whom I still share my life.

I also aquired a determination to have a life which would show straight people that being Gay doesn't mean being second rate. I didn't set out to push the fact that I was Gay down people's throat but equally I was not going to deny being Gay.nor walk round with a constant fear of being 'found out'

One of the problems I did have to face was age. Before the 'explosion' I had a job which forced me, not unwillingly I should add, to stay away from home once or twice a week. I found that age wasn't any barrier to sexual attraction any more than height, weight,colour of your skin or any of the other factors which make one a human individual.

During this period I came out to a man some 12 years younger than myself who had worked for me, at one stage, for four years . He had never hidden the fact that he was gay, but had never realised that I was. His experience of the Gay world was extensive as were his own sexual experiences. His only warning to me concerned age. He personally could hardly face the arrival of his thirtieth birthday while my fortieth loomed large on the horizon

This warning made me look harder at the gay scene and I found many, many older people living quite contented lives, sometimes with a partner of many years, sometimes alone. This discovery plus my own experience of meeting people and enjoying sex with them made my decision to live as a Gay person much easier.

Building a life again from virtually nothing has been very difficult. One job ended not because of my lack of ability but for unspoken reasons one of which was, without any doubt, my sexuality. Because I needed money, I took any job, just as Thatcher says we should but I did find it hard to have any loyalty to companies which work within her rules i.e. pay as little as possible, expect the earth in return. Finally I did find a job in an organisation I respect and which I enjoy. My fellow employees know I am gay and accept the fact with no difficulties.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected aspects of my life was standing up in front of some twenty people on an equal opportunities course and telling how as a Gay person discrimination affects me and other Gay people. I did not ever expect to be able to walk through the centre of London as part of a Gay Pride celebrationb, nor tackle people by letter ranging from the local vicar to members of parliament when I considered they were promoting anti-gay feelings.

On a lighter side I, who was so shy in the showers at school, never expected to wander naked in a gay sauna in Tokyo and find that the hair on my body seemed to attract excitement somewhat akin to the reporting of the first cuckoo in the Times letters column. Nor did I expect to fall aspleep my first night there with a naked young man lying each side of me in the bed.

I also appreciate the genuine friends I have made in the Gay world and the value conventional and unconventional meeting places played in this process.

Although I am not a regular visitor to the Quebec, I do also find it great to see the determination Gay men in the winter of their lives have to go out and still meet with their friends. I don't find it depressing, as some do. I believe that the determination to enjoy life is vital whatever one's age. I also have little time for those who criticise rent boys who may offer their services to older men. What better to spend money on than an attractive young man if that is what you want and both partners understand the situation. So far I haven't needed to but if in the future I do, so what !

So now we come to the commercial. Well the message to young guys is that if they want a happy Gay life streching into middle age and old age, it is possible ! Being a bitter old queen is not obligatory despite the dire warnings of the anti gay doom and gloom brigade. It is true hoever that you have to do something about it yourself. The same holds true for the guys already in their thirties or forties. If a guy tells you to 'piss off' if you try to talk to him, don't get uptight, he's the loser, not you. If you still have agonies about coming out to your parents, get it over with and end the agony one way or the other. Most parents aren't stupid anyway. Despite the still prevailing unemployment,keep trying to find a job you are happy in, don't fall for the prison of pensionable security.

Last but not least accept yourself the way you are and accept too that there are pluses and minuses at every age. For myself I don't have any fear of growing older only a fear that this Government seems determined to put the clock back. As someone who spent my youth under a constant threat of prison for being myself, that threat alone and the fight against it will continue to keep me active.

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