If most retirement homes are run by church groups who don’t support equal rights for the gay community, what will happen to us when we are forced into care?
I suggested to MBH (my better half) that a retirement village for the gay community might be the answer to the conundrum. Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to enjoy our golden years amidst like-minded people in an environment where one could feel safe and accepted? Common interests would bring residents together. Quoting lines from Little Britain to neighbours would no longer raise blank stares.
And just picture the array of activities and entertainment that would be on offer. Sure, the thought of a Priscilla talent show for seniors might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if the performers are residents reliving their drag days decked out in dusty, old sequined costumes. But I rather like the idea of a village where people can gather, enjoy each other’s company and rely on one another for support.
A study by Witek-Coombs reveals that 25 percent of the gay community will be aged over 60 by 2020. Many of these potential retirees will be seeking a community where they can relax and be themselves whilst being cared for. These requirements are often overlooked in mainstream facilities where residents are at risk of getting mistreated for being openly gay. Some are split from their partners, others experience physical or mental abuse from their peers and long-term care givers.
Luckily, plans have been approved by the Australian government to build the nation’s first gay and lesbian retirement village near Ballan, in regional Victoria. This complex will hopefully set a benchmark and inspire other states to follow suit.
In a perfect world, there would be no discrimination and no need for separate retirement facilities for gay people. However, judging by our religious and political leaders’ stance on civil partnerships, gay marriage and civil rights, that perfect world isn’t likely to come about in Australia any time soon.
So perhaps, for those who are able to afford it, an alternative to mainstream retirement homes is worth considering. After all, gay retirement should mean retiring from work, not retiring from being gay. MBH tells me he’ll think about it, so long as I never make him dress up in drag. Pity as I’ve got great ideas for a new double act!
The thought of being forced back into the closet or ending up the only gay in the village is far worse a fate. On that we both agree.
INFO: Follow Luke Brighty on Twitter via @brightlights_66