Old age seems to be following me around. I have had several conversations surrounding being older with in the last few weeks, one of which was whether my partner would put me out of my misery if I got Alzheimer's, that's not really relevant but if you want to know more read my blog. Anyway I digress, old age.
The first conversation I had was with my ex. He is in his mid to late thirties, and has just split up with another guy. We sat, got very drunk and he poured his heart out to me that he was going to be lonely forever, he wouldn't have any kids and no family and no life and no friends and would probably end up in a house with 20 cats and no social life. Dramatic I know, and possibly one of those drunken conversations you have after a split, but it made me think. Well before I was so drunk I'd forgotten the conversation… until a few days later.
Out in Soho with one of my 'younger' friends who considers me to be past it (I am just about to hit 26) and we were chatting away when a guy of around 50 came into the bar we were in, it is aimed at the younger trendy market, why was I there? So he walks in and there was almost a complete stand still of everyone he passed, almost jaws open as if to say 'why is he in here?' My 'younger' friend was one of them. I asked him why his surprise? 'Well men that old shouldn't be in places like this?' When I asked him where they should be he didn't have an answer, and when I asked him what he'll be doing at that age he replied 'oh I would kill myself, no social scene, and if you are single and with no family how could you bare it?' Again it was the same old story as I'd had with the ex.
The final conversation I had that lead to a light bulb going off in my head was with my Gran. She is 66, recently widowed and though obviously very sad she is a social butterfly. She's joined book groups (I think three is slightly excessive) and is part of U3A which is a self-help trust for people in 'the third age' who want to take part in social events and learn more life skills after retirement etc. She used to be a member of the Women's Institute but hasn't joined again. She told me of a gay man who wanted to join a local WI branch and sadly wasn't allowed as he was male, it makes sense but in the deepest countryside caused a bit of a stir. So the light bulb went off and I thought 'what will I have when I am that old?' It might also have something to do with watching Jam & Jerusalem and Calendar Girls in the space of a few days too.
In my old age I hope to have a husband (preferably my partner – you never know) and children, but what about a social outlet that isn't the gay scene in terms of bars and clubs? What if I get widowed, what if he gets widowed, and what if you don't get married and have children? You could join the U3A (I don't think I would be welcomed with open arms in a Working Men's Club, maybe I'm wrong) wouldn't it be great if we had something for Gay Men though? In London you have places such as the House of Homosexual Culture which is brilliant; it's aimed at anyone who wants to "explore the shared cultural heritage of lesbian and gay people through a programme of events, activities and salons" or fabulous monthly nights like Polari as organised by Paul Burston and Dom Agius. However if you are in the sticks there is nothing. I searched the web and couldn't find anything… if you have any joy let me know.
So if no one else is doing it I thought 'bugger it' I will. I have set up a myspace www.myspace.com/thegaymensinstitute and am working through the ideas of how to get something on a nationwide scale organised with no money and using my own time, but hey that's a small price to pay. I am looking for volunteers who might be interested in helping me kick it all off, and am building a website. Oh by the way Gay Men's Institute is a temporary title as I want something snappier, but bear with it. So if you have any thoughts, suggestions or queries go to the site and let me know. After all wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a network like this, it wouldn't be all Jam & Jerusalem, but it could be a bloody good laugh in our elderly years and a real support, or even in our younger years, hell I've joined.
P.S Can everyone fee very sorry for me I have a really horrid cold, least am using my time wisely lol.