Think about that first moment when you “came out.” You know—it’s the admitting to someone else something personal that you kept hidden for years or decades. It might be your sexual orientation, but it might also be that you were adopted, or that a parent left the household when you were growing up.
You get the idea. There is an episode of “Will and Grace” that has Will (played by Eric McCormack) saying “coming out is something that you do only once.” I disagree. My experience is that it is a process, not an event, and even after we have done so to others, it requires admitting, accepting and ultimately embracing within ourselves. (Sounds like a good subtitle for a book, doesn’t it?)
I announced my sexual orientation to friends and family in 1992, after being married to a woman for three years and having a wonderful son. I met my husband (who died in 2018) in 1985; we were together for 33 years. I remember, really until the last few years, having a thought of worry that people would find out I’m gay. (“I’m not gay but my husband is….”) We attended work functions together, and I’m quite sure people figured it out well before I was comfortable talking about it. Back in the day we used words like “roommate” and “best friend” and “buddy.” Not to say that is always the case, but it was with me.
So in 2008 we were able to get married. I guess the world figured it out! What I found was that life had another “coming out” experience for me. At least in North America, our culture tends to value youth and youthfulness. This is true in the LGBTQ community, but in the straight community as well. Hair color, cosmetic surgery and other “enhancements” can be made to make us look younger than we are. And the good news is that we are living longer healthier lives. So is 80 the new 60, and 60 the new 40? I’ll accept that!
A dear friend who I met on Facebook invited me to be part of the first “Elder Pride” conference earlier this year. I was in a roomful of people 60 years old and older. Wait—I didn’t belong there though, did I?
Yes, I did. Gulp.
So what does it mean when we are LGBTQ (or even straight) and 60 something, or 70 something, or 80 something? Are we no longer attractive, useful, desirable, worthy of love? Is it OK if someone calls us “daddy”?
I am journeying into the next chapters of my life, admitting, accepting and ultimately embracing that I am 61 years old and counting. I am learning what it means (and does NOT mean). I’d love it if you’d join me on this journey!