Years ago, when I wrote another column for another website, I used to bleat often, ‘Where are the elderdykes?’. At that stage I was about 30 and didn’t know any lesbians much over 45. All my whining got two responses and I had a drink with a really cool fifty something in Cape Town, and got lectured by a lovely sixty something in KZN, about the responsibility of us young dykes towards their elders. Well, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think we all have a responsibility towards each other.
We need the elderdykes, because they have stories to tell and advice to give. Society as a whole seems to write off the elderly and it makes no sense. People are living longer and staying healthier for longer, so why do we suddenly assume someone is irrelevant as soon as their hair is grey? Selfishly, I imagine a youth where I’d have had an elderdyke to confide in. No doubt I’d have ignored most of her advice and made all the same mistakes anyway, but I think it might have made the world feel a little safer. It’s good to know survivors of the same kind of crap you’re going through.
Sadly, I moved away from KZN, so never managed to connect properly with the active and interesting group of elderdykes there – I almost said ‘retired lesbians’ then thought no, they didn’t give lesbianism up, now did they?
Since then, I’ve moved a lot and my contact with elderdykes has improved; but I’m still looking for that mentor. Of course, I’m assuming someone would want the role and that’s not necessarily the case. I can be rather trying, apparently.
Some countries, notably the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, have resources aimed at the senior gay population. As far as I know, we have none, but I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. Old age isn’t a purely gay issue, even if you’re gay, but it’s a universal issue and as a community, how are we addressing it?
If anybody needs me I’ll be on the trail of the lesbian Voortrekkers.
Comfortably shod over the Drakensberg, anyone?