I don’t think this has much to do with the fact if one is gay or straight, to be single in today’s world be lonely if one permits it to be so. I am in a long term relationship (45 years) and life is very comfortable for me at this time. However, my partner is 80 years old (I’m 67 years old) and chances are that I will eventually end up single. There is no way I will partner up with anyone again. My life partner and I are still trying to work things out after 45 years; does anyone seriously think I would take on a whole new training prospect at my age? Hardly.
When I decided to move from my home in Pennsylvania, mainly to get away from the high taxes, I had several choices. One was Johnson City, Tennessee which is a beautiful part of the country and near and dear to my heart because of the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site. Johnson City is right across the border from the North Carolina Mountains and hollers where my father was born and where I yearn to do a lot of my genealogical research. Pop was a hillbilly.
Another area I considered retiring to was Greenville, South Carolina, home of my youngest brother. Greenville is a beautiful area of the country and not far from Johnson City. Both areas of the country offer mild winters which is very attractive to me in my declining years.
However, as attractive as both of these areas of the country are, I decided against moving there because of their hostility to gays and lesbians. If I would have any kind of life in those areas I would have to live a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” life. And that isn’t me. I don’t live a lie.
Thus, I decided to live in Sussex County, Delaware. While most of Delaware is as conservative as the rest of the South (we still can’t get a hate crimes bill out of the state legislature), the east side of Route 1 is not unfriendly towards gays and lesbians. Not that they’re all that open. After all, Rehoboth Beach is still known as the “Family Friendly Resort” of Washington D C and the Delmarva Peninsula. Don’t expect to see any gay pride marches down Rehoboth Avenue anytime soon. The gay population in the Rehoboth area is generally restricted to raising funds for AIDS awareness and police sensitivity training and drag shows for the amusement of the visiting tourists. While all good and worthwhile causes, the gay presence in the area is pretty much boxed in to the standard stereotypes one expects in a gay resort. Gays and lesbians bring a lot of money into the area and that pretty much explains the acceptance of the open presence of gays and lesbians in the area.
Even though gays and lesbians are still not considered equal to their straight counterparts (I doubt if I’ll ever see same sex marriages legalized in my lifetime while I’m living in Delaware), the discrimination is probably less here than it is in many other parts of the country. One of my favorite measures of success is that when Bill and I go shopping or eat out, we don’t get the stares we got in Pennsylvania. Down here in Gayberry, there are just too many same sex couples shopping and dining together to make that a novelty. It is a pleasure to go out and not get that “stare.” In Johnson City or Greenville, we would get the “stare”, guaranteed. We’ve been there and done that. No thank you. That’s not the way I want to live the rest of my life.
If I should ever become single again I’m not sure if I would continue to live in Delaware. That’s a bridge I’m going to have to cross when I come to it. As I said before, this is my last partner. No more. I’m too old to go through all that drama again. I’ve been fortunate and have made a few good friends in the 2 ½ years I have lived here. But still, it would be lonely living alone. It is hard coming home to an empty house. But I think I have a solution. I’ll get a cat.
I hope my friend finds happiness and contentment wherever he decides to move. He will be missed. He added to the fabric of our life.