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At the age of 50. In your fifties, you're not an older person, but you're here because you're a partner of Ray, who is 88 years old. He was born in 1924. So we'll be talking about issues surrounding his care and any problems you have in dealing with it all. As half of a gay couple first, what what age related problems does Ray have? I guess I need to say at the beginning he has an underlying Crohn's [00:00:30] disease, and this has been going since he was 60. But but now, as an older person, there are things that have come up prostate cancer, which they can't operate on. Um, there's, um, skin, um, cancers that they can remove. Sometimes he has, um, um, macular degeneration. And what's happened is that one of his eyes has actually [00:01:00] collapsed, and now it's gone. He's gone blind out of that eye. The other eye. He's slowly losing the eyesight, and and every so often they have an injection which keeps things in tow. And the, um, he has a level of balancing. Um, but then this is, I guess, related to, um, that he has dementia, vascular dementia and that plays havoc with your brain and so on [00:01:30] and over all these. He has, um, a level of depression that comes and goes. He has some ways of dealing with it. Um, and we're not on any medication. He's not on any medication with that, um, we've spoken to his doctor, and Ray has clearly said that he doesn't want to go on any any medication to do to to do with that. When you guys, uh, your relationship has been going for 14 years and you started [00:02:00] off in set separate homes, When did that change it? It actually changed When, um well, well, Ray had ended up by being put on a rest time because he had, um, had major, um, pro health problems. And while he was in the hospital, they suggested he go into a rest home and after, um, about eight months in the rest home. Um, I, [00:02:30] um, had been during that eight months, I'd been running his house, mowing the lawns, and so on. I'd been, um, doing my own house, the lawns and and he has cats. Um, and also I'd be visiting him every day, So it was quite stress. And I moved into his house just to reduce my running around and And that, and, um, as soon as I moved into, uh, his house, he decided he was going to move home to [00:03:00] his own house because there was going to be someone there to look after him. Um, and this was, um um, in early, Um uh, 2, 2010, I think. Yeah, a couple of years ago, when he was in, was he in a rest home? Did you say yes? He was in a rest home. Um, the the rest home was recommended to him, Uh, when he was in the hospital, the hospital suggested I go and look at, [00:03:30] um, some rest homes. They suggested one particular rest home, and I said he suggested another. And they said, um, I think you should go and look at this restaurant first. So? So I followed their advice, Uh, which I think was really good advice. And, um um, the rest home, uh, was a nice place. I spoke to the manager, and, um, she, uh, quickly ascertained that [00:04:00] we were a gay couple. And, um, so right from the beginning, she was aware of Ray and my, um relationship. Um, and then further through the the time when Ray was there, um, she said there's an article that had come in about, um, gay and gays in the rest home and some of the things she showed me, she was horrified that the potentially people weren't. [00:04:30] Um uh she didn't think that people were given the true information because she she felt that her rest home, um, was sensitive enough to cater for all people. I said to her, even if someone had, um um HIV or AIDS And she said, There's no difference. People are people are people. And I thought, Well, this is really, um a nice private rest home so that obviously there are [00:05:00] rest homes around that can can deal with that. Um, Anyway, uh, as I said earlier, as soon as I moved into Ray's house, um, he decided he no longer wanted to be in the rest home. And, um, he was he's back home again, which, which gave him, gave him a lot more energy. And, um, but with his cats and and all all that well, how how has your own life changed? then? Well, I, I had a, um a small business, [00:05:30] um, greeting cards business. And, um, I found that trying to look after Ray and, um, run the business was just way beyond a joke. So So I, um, I let the business go go, uh, business. Go. Uh, I actually gave it away to various people. And, um, and has been looking after Ray full time. When when did he retire? Was the early eighties. Is that right? Um, yeah, there was, um um he was in the clothing industry and the the cotton that he was in, [00:06:00] um, closed down, and, um and he found it quite frustrating. Um, not having anything to do, uh, And he found he a friend of his, uh was, um, second hand goods for sale. And he looked up, worked with him for a while, and, um, then that's when he was diagnosed with, um, the crows. Can you tell me anything about Ray's early life? Any of the stories he told you? [00:06:30] Oh, yeah, he he told me all sorts of stories. I'll try and remember some of them. The one that, um I think is really funny was, um often people would get together on, uh, Saturday afternoon or or on Sunday afternoon. And, um, they'd be drinking parties and so on. One of the friends, um, seemed to be an organiser of people, and and he would organise, um, people to bring different plates to make [00:07:00] up the meal. And, um, he would, um he would have, They would have, um, um, glass and crockery and and silver. And one occasion, they took all these over to a nearby cemetery and sat in the cemetery and, um and, uh, and enjoyed the meal and the passers by and they'd wave out and and, um, it's just sounds like a fun sort of fun time. That was that was gay times. What? What year? What [00:07:30] year would that be? Roughly. Oh, I. I think it would be in the, um, in the fifties. Maybe early sixties. Well, I know he was gay from an early age. Yeah. Now, um, the the things that he he told me is there, um as, um, kids. He would he would play with other boys. And, um, when you say, play with other boys, you mean play with other boys, as in sexually? Yes, um and, [00:08:00] uh, there were, um, people that he would remember, and he knew that they went off to war. Second World War. Um, and some of them never returned. And there were others that came back and got married. And and he just couldn't understand why someone that he had been so intimate with with, um would suddenly change the side of the fence or whatever expression is, I don't know, right? Um and [00:08:30] there were there was a friend, um, that had a, um a holiday batch, and they would all go out. Um, spend the time on the holiday beach, uh, for weekends and and Christmas times. And there was one. I don't know the story very well, but but there was, um um they had a, like, a a rowboat. And these guys were in the rowboat. And and then, um, one of the other neighbouring batches yelled out, Um, there [00:09:00] go the queens. And then they said they were the river boat queens. OK, I wonder where that was. That was probably on, wasn't it? They've been going down there for a long, long time. I think has been there for a long time, isn't it when you two got together. Did you have any thoughts of the future? And in that did you and in any way anticipate the problems you're encountering now because of your age difference? Um, no. [00:09:30] No. Um, in in fact, um, when I entered the relationship, I knew that Ray had a lot more money and property than I had. And I said to him that should things change, I'm quite happy just to walk away and leave with nothing. That's what we discuss with that. Um, And then, um, as time went by that well, um, has raised health deteriorated of more recent times. So, um, we found, [00:10:00] um, health problems. And there was no way that I could even consider not, you know, being there for him and the fact that, um, we got so close and we talked about things so much. Um, I just had to I knew I had to be there for him. So, um, it wasn't something that we discussed when we got together, but it was something that became, um, just a part of the relationship is when you we felt we cared [00:10:30] about each other and we were so honest around our situations. For example, when, um, we were having sex and Ray had had a prostate. Um, what do you call it when they they investigate the area with a needle? Um, and, um, he he had blood coming out of an area which you normally don't have blood coming out, and, um, gave me a fright. And and so from that point on, we decided that we would honestly talk about absolutely everything [00:11:00] that would that was going on for for both of us. So you've spoken about dying as well? Um, more, more of recent times. Yeah, well, well, the thing is, at one stage, Ray said, um, well, I'm gonna die. And then, um, health issues would come along, and then they'd say, Oh, I wish I could die. I wanna die. And, um um And so it started. We started talking about What are we going to [00:11:30] do when what his needs are when he dies? Like, um, the the ashes. Um I mean, his, um whether he gets cremated or whether he gets buried. And he decided that ashes were the best way. And it meant I knew where I had to find out where they were going to go. And we initially thought somewhere in Auckland, But then, um, talking further, he wanted to his his ashes to be with his parents. And so, um, it took [00:12:00] a little bit to to juggle that. And, um uh, it meant that I, um, met one of his nieces. And, um, there was a, um, a little bit concerned about that, because because by going and seeing her, I'm actually coming out to Ray's, um, Ray's niece. But also Ray's coming out in the process. And the fact that here a man of his in his eighties is coming out to his niece, um is [00:12:30] kind of a was was kind of a funny scary to him, I think. But, yes, I did. Uh, Ray looked after his parents for a long time, I think. Well, his mother, his father, died when he was, um, about six. he he his father died of a brain haemorrhage. No brain haemorrhage. Um, can, uh, tumour. Um And, um so he actually can only remember one have only one memory of his father. Um, and so, um, [00:13:00] when ray was a child, he looked after his mother And then he had the, um the fortunate He was in the fortunate situation that people weren't or his mother wasn't expecting him to get married because he was looking after her so he could remain as a single man and get away with it quite legitimately with everyone. And and, um and his mom was happy that he was, um, still looking after him and so on. [00:13:30] So he was never pressured to get married then? Oh, absolutely not. No, his mother would have Would have gone along with it, but she would have been very unhappy because we would be here. The person that looked after her, Indeed, when he was in the clothing industry, Um, I think he would have had some. He worked with a lot of women, didn't he? Yeah. Um, any stories about that? Um Well, yeah, the the what was what was quite interesting. And this is the things that he said that [00:14:00] he would, um, they would ask him to go dancing because they knew that they were safe. They That wasn't, um They didn't feel it. Didn't feel as though, um, he was going to try and take advantage of them. and, uh, there was actually 11 person at the at the factory. She liked to go dancing. And at one stage, Ray was boarding with, um with her and her husband. And, um, [00:14:30] he Ray would take her out to the the dance hall or whatever wherever they went. Um, and the husband was quite happy to stay at home, and it was kind of an odd situation, so, you know, But But he knew that the husband knew that his wife was safe because he was going out with Ray, although I don't think they ever discussed anything about homosexuality. But it was assumed then that they knew you. Ray assumed that he knew that they knew he was gay, [00:15:00] but But it wasn't discussed a lot of stuff in the times that this weren't discussed. Well, considering your age is now you're in your fifties and Ray is 88. Do you still have a sex life? Oh, yeah, actually, what's what's kind of interesting is, and I guess it's part of the dementia because there's a lot of things that Ray can't do. Um uh, the things that he can do is is things sexually [00:15:30] and And so, um, three, the day or the night, Um, I get manhandled quite a lot. How do I, um And, um that sometimes that I have to ask him just to be a little more around it. So So, Yeah, we we do still have a, um an active, um, sex life. I think, um, [00:16:00] I find it, um um, quite amazing, because I would have never thought someone of 88 still, um, en enjoying and and, um, wanting to participate in in a sex life. There's hope for us all. Yes, absolutely. When, uh, when you you and Ray talk to each other, Is he happy that you're looking after him? That's a silly question. Of course he is. But he worries. He worries [00:16:30] about you, doesn't he? Yeah, well, sometimes he said to me, um and are Are you sure you want to be with me? And, um uh, that, uh, he's asking genuinely. And I know, um, where he's come from because he wants me to be, um, um, happy about life and that. And I always say, Yes, because I do. I feel [00:17:00] I'm happy to be with him. Um, part of it is that he brings a lot of, um, a lot of fun and and joy. He's He's in the old sense of the term gay. He's he's quite a gay character. He's He's a very happy person. Um, and I think, um, I think the fact that it's a question that gets asked is often in in any relationship, gay [00:17:30] or straight, Um, people don't ask the other partner, Do they want to be in that relationship? And Ray is genuinely, genuinely asking me if I'm really happy to be with him in this relationship. It's wonderful. How does Ray think of himself in in terms of what? How would he describe himself as a gay man? The terms have changed over the years, certainly since he was born. [00:18:00] Camp used to be a very strong word that is not used anymore or not used much to describe yourself these days. No, I don't think he looks of himself as as being gay or straight. He just he just a person that's being true to himself. And, um, is that what you're meaning? Well, yes, I was wondering whether he thought of himself as gay queer as a homosexual. [00:18:30] He doesn't bother to think about it. I guess gay is the term that he's comfortable with. He hasn't said about gay or queer or any other term. How about you? As a matter of interest, how do you think of yourself? Oh, gay OK, yes, it's usually a very commonly accepted word these days, I think. What advice would you personally give to anyone contemplating a relationship with an older [00:19:00] man? Well, it's it it it's actually becomes a, um to to your relationship. Uh, I think I never thought of that when I got into a relationship with Ray, but But that's the situation that I'm in now. And and we actually talk about, um, yeah, the fact that one of us is gonna die now the thing that I guess concerns [00:19:30] me a little bit because, um, years ago I had a stroke and the possibility that I died. Then I see that it could be either it could be me, or it could be Ray, even though, um, that's a situation. Um, Ray would certainly be cared for. He he'd obviously at his age, he'd have to go into a home, wouldn't he? Yes, he would. And and This is one area that he absolutely hates. The fact that, um, I'm at home with him. [00:20:00] Um, um, he has a lot more energy being being in the home environment, His own home. Um, and I notice that when he goes away for two weeks to spite, um, while I need a break, his depression kicks in. He says, um, I wish I could die. Um, all these things and the fact that visitors do come and see him, he [00:20:30] doesn't remember the visitors now with his dementia. And, um uh, there was there was one time when he was actually in in a live in situation where he was concerned that people would come in and kill him because being a gay man, Um, and I guess it's all, um, being away from his home environment. He's like, at the house he's in. He's been in the same house [00:21:00] for over 60 years. Um, it's got so many memories. He's done a lot of things to the house. Um, and, um, there's a There's a sense of security in his own home, and he certainly he certainly doesn't get that from being in, uh, in a rest home um, see the kind of dementia that he has. The vascular dementia. Um, he he know he remembers what he doesn't remember. And, um, [00:21:30] and things of being at home with us. I. I guess a lot of gay people have pets, as as their Children and rays always had the cats as his Children. And, um, the Children are there with him, so yeah, he's a big garden, too, which used to take up an enormous amount of his time. Probably takes an enormous amount of your time these days. Does he still enjoy his garden? Absolutely. Yes. We're, um we're enjoying [00:22:00] the, um there's the magnolia that's in full bloom at the moment. Um, it's, um I don't know what to kind of make do. And there's a number of chameleon trees that are that him and his mother planted. Um, and and these these trees all have a history to him, um, of where the where the plants came from and the reason that they got that one because his mother liked the flowers and and so on, he raised Ray's life at home with his mother as a gay man. [00:22:30] How did how did he manage that. He just said he was going to the pictures. Um, was never, never discussed. His mother didn't know anything. Um, and, um, he would be going out with friends often or to the pictures. Um, and no, it was it was never discussed. The fact that Ray was there and was looking after her was all she wanted. So was he able to bring friends home? [00:23:00] I don't mean to be, but but did did. Yes. He did have friends visit, visit him, and, um, he at one stage, he had somebody staying with them. And, um uh, I think one one time they got sort of caught out, but, um, because because the mother liked the the the young man. Then certain things were overlooked. Anything else you want to talk [00:23:30] about with Ray about Ray before we finish? Um, Well, yeah, I, I guess that, um What's what's really nice is the support that we're getting, um, we get, um, support from public service. And, um, we've got, um, um the health department. And, um, we have a person coming in with showering because of raised balance. Um, and [00:24:00] what? What I've found is when people know that we're a gay couple. And, um, the history of gay people is that often when people get to a stage where their health deteriorates and and going into any institution like a rest home or so on is, um, committing suicide is the is the easy option out of that, um, a lot of gay. Well, I've heard a number of people say that that's how they're going to end their life. [00:24:30] Now, that's something that Ray and I have talked about. And Ray said that he just doesn't feel like he would want to commit suicide to to get out of this, Um, uh, the situation he's in, but there are times he'd like to die, but he's certainly not going to do it. No. No. And because of that, um, we have, um the mental health, um, come in and and help us in in in lots of ways, like services that they, um, they [00:25:00] offer, There's, um um there's also a men's group that he goes to, which is with, um, older men with dementia, and, uh, at this stage, he's the only gay one there. But the the fact that, um, he can go somewhere and feel a little bit more, um, alive about being with. He was accepted as a gay man in that group. Well, they don't know that I, I guess the one. The one thing that Ray [00:25:30] is really upset about is that, um, his friends of years. He said he wishes that they would visit him and and hardly any visit him now, particularly with his dementia, because he he asked, he asks the same questions. You know, um, over and over again. I think I think that that some of us who visit him and not he doesn't remember that we've done it. No, he doesn't. But the fact that, um, at home, um, we really [00:26:00] have people come in to see him. He is one person that that comes in, but, um um, because Ray is seen as being looked after at home, then they don't need to go and visit him. And and that's the times that, um, we thought of be nice to have it. And that's and I guess that's why it's really important that I have this men's group that he can go to. So he has a level of socialisation, um, that he would otherwise miss out on.
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|AI Text:||September 2023|