some of you may remember me writing what a close friend said to me immediately after i announced i was giving up the struggle to try and be straight:
“well, there’s nothing worse than an ‘old gay.'”
it was delivered as if it were supposed to be some kind of deterrent. and ever since, it has remained stuck in my craw–perhaps even more than any of the other comments, including “it feels like you have died.”
in the interest of letting things go and moving on, i have to first try and understand maybe where he was coming from; perhaps what he meant is that he believes many gays in their older years may lead empty lives because they are alone or sick. of course if so many gays weren’t turned away from, abandoned, and eschewed by their families and supposed Christian peoples, maybe they wouldn’t be alone. but i digress.
part of the offense the comment created may be my own fear of aging…losing my hair (haha)…being unable to dance (lol)…and yes: being alone. yet, i’ve never, ever been alone–even when i thought i was–so why would i have any reason to fear this?
far be it for me to judge anyone, but for me, there’s nothing worse than reaching the later part of one’s life possessing bitter regret–whether it’s over unkindness shown to someone, from being unwilling to love or forgive someone like they should, or being unable (or unwilling) to live an authentic life.
being an old gay is not what i fear. being a bitter, empty person is. and that, in large part, is what shapes how i live my life.
since coming out, i have encountered gays on both sides of the spectrum: those living happy and fulfilling lives despite being out and those who have difficult lives. life is always going to present difficulties but i can say that having others’ love and support can be the what keeps many of us alive.
now let’s talk about Richard.
in the few times i’ve attended Cathedral of Hope church, i’ve seen several older gays, including this wonderful man. i wrote about him last week in an aside and this past Sunday, he did not disappoint. the fact that at his age he is unafraid to live his authentic self and is such a radiance of pure joy is of such encouragement to me!
i decided i wanted to write a post about him and i asked if we could have our picture made together in hopes of illustrating that being an “old gay” (or even an “old-ish” one) can be a beautiful thing.
i hope he’s not offended by the “old” reference. i want to point out that beyond his awesome wardrobe selections, his spirit radiates a youthfulness far younger than his age would ever indicate.
though i have not spent time with him or talked to him in depth, just from watching him interact with others, i think Richard’s secret is accepting and being happy with the creation he is, being open and loving toward others, avoiding sources of negativity, and surrounding himself with loving people. (all that plus a really great wardrobe!)
if only everyone–particularly gays–could be assured of this kind of support, then perhaps many would not have to endure so much sadness in their lives. hmmmmmm
i wish i had known someone like Richard when i came out. but i know him now. thank you, Richard, for your beautiful example and the hope you give all of us as we navigate our individual journeys.