ver the last couple of months, we have used this series to explore what retirement looks like for the aging gay population. We've talked about choosing the right retirement community, about the legalities of domestic partnerships, and about how to protect your inheritance. We've also talked a bit about how the gay and lesbian Baby Boomers don't really have a previous generation to emulate as they reach retirement and old age. The group that has fought in so many ways for us to be where we are today is still making it up as they go along. There are a number of reasons that younger generations don't look to their predecessors, and each of them rings fairly hollow. The fact of the matter is that the older folks have a lot to teach us. In many cases, all we need to do is ask. Tony Farr is a Spokane resident who works for S.L. Start and Associates helping people with disabilities reach their potential. He is a Vietnam veteran. He is a witness to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. He is a former monk. In addition to all of these things, Tony is also a gay man who is approaching the age of retirement and figuring out just what that means for him. "If I were to go back 30 years ago," he says, "I think I would have looked at things differently. I would have done those things at 30 that seemed silly. Like planning ahead." Talking with Tony is a comfortable experience. He's warm and welcoming with quite a sense of humor. Somehow he is authoritative and humble all at once. When he begins to speak of his life, you intrinsically know that he has something profound to share. That is, if you're willing to listen. Tony is well aware that the American gay culture does not tend to honor seniors. "By and large, I think we are a culture Aging continued on page 10
Spokane's Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture's Interactive Chalkboard, created by Ken Spiering and Harold Balazs, serves as backdrop for Tony Farr.
The idea of looking to the older generation for guidance certainly isn't a new one, but it seems to be an easy one to ignore in modern Western society. While the elderly are often overlooked in American culture altogether, it can be argued that this phenomenon is compounded within the gay community.
Part 3 of 3 by Lorna Doone Brewer Photo above and front cover by Nicole Hensley
www.qviewnorthwest.com | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | March 2009 |