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
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
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.