Eventually, when the husband gets sick of my grousing and puts me in a home (it is my goal in life, after all, to be a grouchy old man), I'll be in good company.
SAN FRANCISCO - Like other gay men in their golden years, Jack Norris and Seymour Sirota had heard the horror stories.

An elderly lesbian couple is housed on separate floors of a nursing home and kept from seeing each other. A gay retired college professor feels compelled to keep his sexual orientation a secret after his roommate at an assisted living facility asks to be transferred.

"I thought, 'We are not going to be in that situation,'" the 67-year-old Norris says crisply. "This is not going to happen to us in our final days."

That's how the two New Yorkers, partners for 14 years, landed at Rainbow Vision, a just-completed senior community in Santa Fe, N.M. From the private dining room named after Truman Capote to the cabaret where '60s teen icon Lesley "It's My Party" Gore was scheduled to appear this weekend, everything about the 146-unit retirement village was designed with the comfort of graying gays and lesbians in mind.

Lesley friggin' Gore is performing there. Holy crap, I want to live there now. This is really fantastic news. Before I moved to NYC to be with my husband, my roommate's (gay, partnered) father used to invite us to his parties and get-togethers. Everyone there was over 50 and gay. Interestingly, there was also an equal distribution of sexes; there were as many lesbians as gay men that were in their circle of friends. I got to know many of these people; they were really wonderful and fun to be around. But there's one thing I remember them all saying: "I'll never go in a home." One man joked, "The rooms in those things are small enough; imagine having to get into one of their closets." I was very happy that the article didn't ignore that particular issue:
"In a retirement community, you want to be with people of like minds and like interests, whether it's a golf community or a religious community," said Bonnie McGowan, who is spearheading Birds of a Feather, a second gay senior complex in New Mexico. "Until I feel safe walking down the street holding a woman's hand ... and not feel like I'm going to offend even one person, there is a need for this."

Besides personal safety, specialists in gay aging issues offer other reasons why the so-called Stonewall Generation, named for the 1969 New York riots that marked the beginning of the modern gay movement, needs and craves places of its own to retire.

Among them are the years of stigma and isolation many gays who are over 50 experienced, that may have left them estranged from their families, financially insecure and childless.

"There is a real sense of disenfranchisement and also a sense of independence, of 'I don't want to be dependent on family, I want to be dependent on community,'" said Judy Dlugacz, founder of the San Francisco-based lesbian travel company Olivia Cruises and Resorts.
This is one example of the "gay community" that I'm behind, 100%. I wish one would open here in Chicago so I could volunteer.

I take a little umbrage with the word "specialized" when describing these facilities... it sounds too much like "special rights," which the homobigoted love to trumpet at every occasion. But I'm just being potato-potahto picky. Cheers to Norris and everyone involved in getting these places off the ground.

And this is just too cute:
"Now, we have more options and we may be more out, but it's still going to be hard to find friends or partners," she said. "It doesn't help to live in a gay-friendly community without any other gay people."

Along with second chances — Silver is planning to throw a prom party "for those of us who didn't go to senior prom with the person we wanted to" — Rainbow Vision was designed to foster a sense of immediate belonging.

If they'll allow a bar in my room, I'm so retiring to this place.

(Pardon me, boy... is that the Chattanooga cross-post?)

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