Old and Gay – Dying Alone and Rae’s Friends by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405A dear friend of mine is dying. Yes, the saying might be true—we all die alone. But we all are not necessarily lonely when we die. How can we die happy…with our self-respect intact?

We are all alone, born alone, die alone …I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness. —Hunter S. Thompson

Many of the women that I interviewed in my book Baby, You Are my Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall lived a closeted gay life. Their respect for their gay self had to be hidden in order to survive. It was how they respected the gay inner self—it is how they protected that self’s very survival.

Many of them, as many of us do, had friends that affirmed their inner identity even as it was hidden to a majority of the outside world. As they grew older, their friends (as many of our friends will do) died. That meant that the friends they had in the gay bars died holding the secret of their gay lives. Many of these women grew up into adulthood without the benefit of a community. For them “gay pride,” “coming out,” and even the word “lesbian” were not words they would ever use in their common conversation. Continue reading “Old and Gay – Dying Alone and Rae’s Friends by Marie Cartier”

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