“I can’t stand another freezing Melbourne winter. I’m heading north to the sunshine.”

So said my late-sixties single gay friend, Howard*, as he made plans to auction his apartment. With rigid determination, he then headed for the allure of the beaches on the Sunshine Coast, where he intended to embrace his retirement and the possibilities that a new location offered.

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“Come and stay“, he told his Melbourne friends, but the reality of the next six years was that, to my knowledge, only one came to visit, and then just for a meal.

A Gay Melburnian At Heart

While Howard enjoyed his daily beach walks, long glances at the muscled lifesavers, and Friday nights at the surf club bar and restaurant, he still listened daily to a Melbourne radio station. There was little doubt that he was still a Melburnian, and unfortunately, that is where his entire support group remained.

While friendly to strangers, Howard was not outgoing enough to attract any to become a new friend. He began isolating himself in his high-rise apartment with his beloved cats, where he turned to alcohol and online addictions. Add no gay social activities on offer, and his dream of being on permanent holiday all year long soon spiralled into total loneliness.

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When he was found lifeless on the floor of his apartment after five days of being in that position, it was sadder still to find only five phone numbers in his mobile phone – his sister, two friends down south, and two others.

(Why single older men do not want to wear medical alerts 24/7 I do not understand!)

Check Your Support Base

I love that men of any age have dreams of a better life, but in my friend’s case, he went to a strongly heterosexual seaside city, devoid of any family, friendship, or gay male connections awaiting his arrival. It was simply too much to expect regular visits of Southerners to keep his previous life alive.

If you are thinking of moving locations, check out the support base you want your life to have. Medical facilities increase in importance as we age, physical contact with friends and family is more important to nourish your soul than just digital contact, and be sure that you are not just avoiding a problem and trying to escape it by moving.

Do you really have to move? Will you still have the same issues, just in a different location? Consider wisely – your life may depend on it!

*Name changed.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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