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  One Door Shut --- Another Opened

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher,  On the Gay Horizon

Don't take it personally when I tell you that I wish the idea for On the Gay Horizon had never occurred to me.

You see, I had it all planned, knew just how I was going to spend the rest of my life. But then fate, or whatever you choose to call the forces that direct our lives, stepped in. My partner, the love of my life, didn't survive complications following emergency heart surgery. In an instant, my life, if not actually over, was certainly turned upside down.

We've all heard that even the darkest of clouds has a silver lining, and, while I often feel the urge to smack the "they's" who seem to feel it their mission to spout platitudes like that, in this case there was some truth to it. Not only did I have to immediately deal with many of the issues that everyone in the GLBT community will be faced with as they age --- medical facilities, visitation rights, medical and financial directives, end-of-life decisions, wills, survivorship issues, grief, availability of support --- I also had a lot of alone time to think about "now what?"

Where do I live? How do I live?  How do I deal with the loneliness? How can I afford to do the things I want to do? Where do I look for guidance on GLBT issues for my generation?

Being in a relationship created a false sense of security for me.  Without really thinking about it, I assumed someone would be there to take care of me as I get older.  As I would care for my partner.  

But security, even in the best of situations, is a myth. Life can, and often does, change in a heartbeat.

And then we make choices.  We can choose to live or to not. We can choose to honor how far we have come and prepare for truly living the rest of our lives, or we can choose to wrap our old invisibility cloak around our shoulders and slip back into the closet.   

For me, deciding to live was the only real decision I had to make. Picking up that cloak and fading away will never again be an option. 

We've been looking for the yellow brick road all our lives --- that magical place where we could live with the same rights, protections and opportunities as everyone else. And we've had a lot of success.  What we didn't consider, though, was what was waiting for us on down the road.  My partner's living will didn't smooth the path as we'd hoped.  My trip through the healthcare system was an eye-opener.

And here's another one:  GLBT baby boomers are hitting retirement age, this year! That was not on our radar --- never something we spent any time thinking about. We were too busy battling AIDS, Jerry Falwell and our own damaged psyches to prepare for aging and retirement issues.

Seemingly all of a sudden, we're here, and it looks nothing like being welcomed into the Emerald City!  We're still in Kansas right along with our straight friends. The difference is that they've been paying attention and planning. We haven't.  Plus, there are programs and agencies in place to guide them. Not so, for us. They can easily access information and assistance. Can we?

But its time for that to change. That's why On the Gay Horizon is here. To bring you specialized information and connect you with the resources you need to make this next transition. We are in uncharted territory. Prior generations of GLBT seniors, for the most part, had no option other than to fade back into the closet.

That's simply not acceptable for me --- for us.

And that choice, my choice to live my life, my way, gave birth to On the Gay Horizon. Our road has never been easy, but you have to admit, lots of the time it's been a blast getting this far!  We've been able to survive because we became a family.  And that's what will get us through the next part of our journey. 

Welcome to our family here at On the Gay Horizon.

I couldn't be happier that you have decided to come along for the ride. Everyone at On the Gay Horizon is committed to bringing you the information and putting you in touch with the resources that you will need to make the next part of our journey the absolute best!  So, look for us every week in your inbox, and in the meantime, check out the  On the Gay Horizon Blog.


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