An Unremarkable Life

Couple Holding Hands

This is my first Blog to introduce a Guest. I wanted to write a Blog about being gay. I don’t have that experience. His response to my request to write the Blog was a great response to why he didn’t think he was the best person to write such as Blog. With his support and final approval, I modified it to a Q&A format.

We both present it not as a common or rare experience, but a single person’s lived experience.

It is unremarkable within a gay community experience but remarkable in a straight community experience. The whole intent of my guest participating with this Blog is to move everyone to a day when his story would be unremarkable for all and not needed to be told.

Glenn:
What is your past connection to the LGBTQ community?

Guest:
I have never really considered myself as part of the LGBTQ community. A bit of background… from the mid-50’s to mid-60’s, after the death of my grandfather, my mother, brother & myself spent our 2-month summer holiday in a small town in Ontario with my grandmother. Because of her, I was seen as more than just another summer visitor – I was part of her family and became a part of the community.


Glenn:
How old were you in the mid 60’s?

Guest:
I was about 18 years old, just heading off to University.

Glenn:
What was life like in that small town?

Guest:
During the day my friends, who were all straight, went swimming, fishing, hiking, and hanging out – all the things that kids our age did during the summer.

I worked 6 nights a week at the local cinema and got to know many of the town’s teenagers. I returned to the small town for a permanent job as a teacher. I was already known and accepted.

Glenn:
Did you stand out as being different at that time?

Guest:
I was always a bit “different” because in a small town the fact that I came from “the big city” was a factor. Something as simple as dressing differently was also a factor. While I bought my clothes in the current style from Toronto shops, most of the students had purchased their clothes from the Sears catalogue. Whether they thought I was gay or not, was never an issue with staff or students.

Glenn:
What was life like as a single gay man?

Guest:
I would be in Toronto on many weekends with my partner at the time. Most weekends were spent at bars, clubs and parties in the ‘gay community.’ Although meeting many people, I came to realize that we had nothing in common other than being gay.

Glenn:
How did that realization change things for you?

Guest:
When my current partner was hired in 1975, all that changed. I became a part of his family and met his circle of friends. His friends, gay or straight, were also friends because they had some common interests. After a time we bought our house together.

Glenn: When did you retire?

Guest:
I retired in 2002.

Glenn:
With 18 years of retired life, how are things going?

Guest:
We have met a lot of interesting people through our travels. We have also met others through our seniors’ courses, and talking to people at the opera, ballet, concerts and getting to know friends of our friends. Some of our friends are straight, and some are gay, but the common factor is that we have many interests in common.

Glenn:
From your senior citizen’s perspective, what’s your reflection on the LGBTQ and broader gay community now?

Guest:
From my perspective, I think the ‘gay community’ as a concept is weakening. More gays of our age or even a generation younger, many of whom are professionals, have married & many have families. They do not live in the gay ghetto. We are to be found all over the city.

Glenn:
Thanks for this. It has been a learning experience for me. Final comments go to you.

Guest:
I am merely different from the mainstream because of a sexual identity, whatever it may be. If the sexual component were taken out of the mix, we would realize that we are all just looking for acceptance as human beings.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please email me or leave your comment. I really do read every one.

If you enjoyed The Blog, please share it with others. Thanks.
And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley
Volunteer
TheBlog@stalbertseniors.ca
https://stalbertseniors.ca

Photo: Stanley Dai on Unsplash