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Neil’s story

For many older gay people, life is very challenging, even in these more enlightened times.

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    We were criminalised until the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which started a difficult journey to acceptance. However, scars were left on many, as by that time, 1967, many of us were in our 30’s, including my John.

    He would therefore never ‘come out’, always maintained we were cousins, that he had been married, that he had a daughter and many other things to create a straight persona. With the onset of his dementia, he was brought back to those difficult times. It made him feel very wary of people, and he felt we were being invaded when care or support was offered.

    Fortunately, we had become civil partners in 2007, after 33 years, so I could at least ensure he had respectful and timely care and support. We only had our chosen family for support, and they were very helpful, but John could be aggressive at times as his dementia journey progressed, so those were challenging times. My dear John passed away in 2015, aged 80.

    In light of my experience with John, over our 41 years together, I would encourage all members of the gay community to be brave and ‘come out’, as once you have done that, the world becomes a much more accepting place. Just ensure you are in a safe place when you do it. I did it at 71 and have never looked back!

    Healthcare is much more accepting these days and those starting a dementia journey will get fantastic help and support if they are open and honest. It also helps the person to not worry unduly about their past and helps them focus on the future.