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Mike Keegan - Older Gay Men [AI Text]

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I got married. I didn't know too much about homosexuality. I knew that I was gay. Well, I didn't know what gay even was in those days. And in the provincial city I lived in, uh, you heard people say, Oh, he's a puf or he's queer or something like that, but and I knew I was attracted to guys, but, um, as time went by, I became more and more to them until finally, uh, my wife and [00:00:30] myself separated and got divorced. But in the meantime, we'd had two Children, and they were growing up, and so it was time to move on. And how many years of marriage? 31 years. Uh, we both say my wife, my ex-wife and myself both say that for the last 15 years, we probably shouldn't have, uh, being married because, uh, I don't think it was just solely me. It was I don't think my was a [00:01:00] I suppose with time you fall out of love. I suppose if it's love or whatever, but, um, she also knew I was gay. And so But she was most insistent that we we remained friends because we'd had some very, very good times together. And whilst I don't think we had bad times, we were together. We weren't as good a friends in the last 15 years as what we were in the 1st [00:01:30] 15 years. And for that reason, it was, um, it helped tremendously. Um, I lost my son four years ago, who was murdered? And, uh, if we hadn't have been good friends, uh, that that really helped us, that bond between us that, you know, we could hold each other up, and it was a very sad time for us. It must have been, Yes. It was a wonderful thing that you were [00:02:00] on good terms with your wife. And thank goodness we were my daughter at the time was living in England and she flew out and he brought Trent's body home to New Zealand, and, uh, we could all support each other. And although the family were, you know, my son was dominantly based in Ireland and was overseas. Uh, and I don't and I haven't lived for 20 odd years with my [00:02:30] ex. We we were a very family that was spread all over the world, but, um, still very close. If you know what I mean, um, my Children accepted. I was gay. It was No, not a problem. Um, initial shock, I suppose. But, uh, certainly not a problem nowadays. And in fact, um um well, they know a lot of my friends and socialise [00:03:00] with them. They put them up in their house and that so being gay is not a not a problem with them. And that's, uh that's a wonderful thing. Um, yeah. I don't know what else to say in that respect. So you wouldn't have had any discrimination about being gay before things became legal Because you're still married, then? Yes. I. I can remember that. Um, they used to drink with a lot of guys after [00:03:30] after playing squash or golf, and they used to say, Oh, they were really anti, um, this gay homosexual law reforms, et cetera. And I couldn't see the love of me. And at that stage, I probably knew that I was gay, but I couldn't see whose business it was except the people involved. If someone wants to live with someone or or be whatever with someone who's who else and I think that's [00:04:00] the attitude I've always taken. Who else is who Who else is, um, what does it matter? Because no one else is going to be affected by it. It's no one else's business, Really. I mean, it doesn't worry me, and I don't think it ever has. So you'd be all for this gay marriage bill that's been mooted. I really don't think about it much. I. I, uh I wonder what all the fuss is about. It, Um, [00:04:30] I we've They've got the civil union now, and I haven't studied it too much. And, um, I don't know what they're going to, um, gain by in a gay marriage. I understand that there are some technicalities that gay couples can't get buried together or something like that unless they're married or something. I I'm not sure about all those technicalities, but those technicalities needed to be addressed. Probably. And I think that's probably what it's. But I haven't studied [00:05:00] too much to make too much comment on it. How's the proposal for gay, um retirement village going Well, I'm a bit involved because I went to a meeting of a new group called Over the Rainbow for people over 55 organised by outline or some members of outline. And, uh, I was sitting there one night and one day and they said all the lesbians were having, uh the gay ladies [00:05:30] were organising a village. And I said, Well, if the gay ladies can organise a village, why can't the gay guys and, um then, well, a lot of discussion went down the line and I said, Hang on a minute, that's what we want. That's what we want. Everyone sitting and I said, Well, just hang on a minute. Hang on it. You you don't know you should do a survey first, and I got involved in that survey. And so I open my mouth too much and probably, uh, and helped, um, do the survey. Whether [00:06:00] anything becomes of it, I don't know, but I'm at the back of the ship helping to steer it and not at the front. Um, so were a lot of people interested in us the concept. They they got about 60 replies about, um 40 I suppose, or 45 or something like that from an online survey and the validity of that, I don't know, because it was done through a survey company, and I passed out about or 15 or 20 [00:06:30] physical paper ones that people had to tick boxes and very similar to what? The online The online, uh, survey was And, um, whilst a lot of people filled them out, whether they want to become involved in the gay village or not, I don't know. Time will tell on that, but the the overwhelming response to that was amazing in that 100% I think on the online when it was [00:07:00] a 98% or something said that, yes, they they would probably go into a gay retirement village if they were going into AAA retirement village of such and that they would prefer that 100% would prefer that to the current options. And that was an amazing thing. And I think that that is the amazing thing. That so, having gone down that line where where, um, we're going to have a a public [00:07:30] meeting on the 12th of November, I think Yes. So would you want to live in one of those places Currently, um, I've got health problems. Um, but well, we're working. Hopefully, we'll get over that. Um, it it it it can be very debilitating at times, but I'm I'm managing quite well. I keep my own house. I've got my own gardens here, and, um, I can [00:08:00] still drive. Although a couple of days I was so bad that I wouldn't drive, but, um, and I can still turn my little caravan around and things like that. So right at the present moment No, I wouldn't. But the day might come when I might have to move. And, um, yes, I certainly would. Um, entertainer I looked at when or in the last six or 12 months I've looked at at retirement villages for the pure and simple reasons. If [00:08:30] the day come, I would want to know where I was going rather than just saying, Well, you're going into that rest home there or that rest home there. You know what I'm saying? Yes. What gay organisations are you involved in now? Well, at present moment, I'm I I'm only loosely involved in um Well, I probably would say that I I'm involved in friends of friends. That would be the main one. I am Friends of friends is for, um, [00:09:00] came in when I first come to Auckland. I had just come out and I. I didn't know. I didn't know anyone. Um, I was very cagey about being gay, and I went along to friends of friends and in those days it was about 35 or 40 men could go there, and it's, um [00:09:30] it's been going for about 20 odd years and I've been going II I met all all most of my friends that I know today at friends of Friends, and, um, I've seen many A guy come along that's totally lost doesn't know he might be interested in swimming or he might be interested in something else. He doesn't want to go to the bars or the nightclubs to meet up with people and just wants to sit down and have a talk and a cup of tea or a coffee and things. [00:10:00] And, um, for that reason, in the last few years I've been mainly instrumental in myself in keeping it going. Um, it's it's dropped off over the years the number of attending and we are trying to get it rejuvenated into a a younger group as well as an older group. Currently, we're, uh, getting on a bit in our sixties and seventies. Is it mainly older? Those original people who are still [00:10:30] in the group? Or do you get lots of new people these days? We don't get a lot of new people. And when we get a younger person to come along when I say young anyway and from in their twenties and thirties and forties, they take all thirties. They take one look at us and, uh, scamper off again. And and being an older person, I think interests are different to a younger person. And and that's the reason we've just recently shifted from Rainbow Youth. We. It was originally held [00:11:00] in the Pride Centre down at, Well, the People Centre down in Vineyard Street. And then it went to the Pride Centre and um KK Road. And then when the Pride Centre collapsed, uh, Rainbow Youth took it over, and we stayed on the same rooms until for the last couple of years, and we've gone down to outline in Ponsonby, and that's been a good shift because, um, outline can see the need. They think there is a need for a group such as that so that people can come along and talk about [00:11:30] whatever they want to talk about. It's not political. It's not affiliated to anything. A a any particular, um and and and it's it's It's a very loose knit group. You just roll along and have a cup of tea or coffee or whatever, and you can talk about anything you like. But in saying that, you usually find an ear that you can talk to and say, Look, um, I can remember a Russian guy come along [00:12:00] years ago and he wanted to raise his own Children. And having been a married man with Children, they he wanted to know about bringing up Children and what it was like. Um, and I think I was helpful to him. I Well, I definitely say he went to to Sydney and and found a surrogate mother or something. I I'm not sure, but I believe that he has a couple of Children of his own, and that's what he wanted. And you know, there's some people out there that are [00:12:30] not in favour of gay people bringing up Children. But I was a gay person and my Children were very well balanced. And for the love of me, I can't see anything wrong with it? So So you're able to help people like that? You are able to help the odd person that comes along and is lost and doesn't know where to go and meet people or yeah, so and in a very informal way, you can just get, whisper or talk [00:13:00] to someone on the side that you sort of get to know. And how do you get people along to do you do any advertising? Um, it's advertised in the express, uh, meeting places every Thursday night, and and, uh, I think you'll see it in the express. Um uh, other. No, we don't. We don't charge. There's no fees. There's no there's no nothing. Uh, um, some of us take along a biscuit or two a night, and and, um, that's about it. [00:13:30] I've I've also been involved in the walking group, the tramping group I. I can't walk with my problems at the present moment health problems. But I would very much like to get back into that. I don't know about the tramping. Um, I used to belong to um the Longing Club. Until it's it's, um, collapsed two or three years ago. I used to like the pot like dinners and social functions there. Um, er I [00:14:00] go to the Queer Club on Sunday night. Um, the fifth season, the gay gardening group. I very much like that. Um, I've never been heavily involved in them, but if they ever want a hand or anything like that, I'm always hanging around the fringes so as to speak. Um uh, I don't know what else I can really enable. Yeah, I'm always there to prepare to give my support to something [00:14:30] like that. Can you elaborate on the Aquarius Club? That's on the Sunday night that's in the bar. It's mainly called the Old Man's Bar. It's held down in currently down in, um, the portside bar. Just go in and have a cup of beers and a bit of a talk. And, um, yeah, make one or two friends and say, Oh, we're going next Friday night. We might go out to dinner or something like that. Well, yeah, there's always someone there, you know, And and, um, it's just a pleasant night out for an hour or two. [00:15:00] well, can you tell me then what? Um, some of the gay experiences you've had or the experiences you've had as a gay man in the last 20 odd years. Oh, my goodness. I bet you have some good stories. Yeah, but I don't know whether I want to tell you this that, um I am I When I first came out within a year [00:15:30] or two I I met a man which I settled down with for a year or 18 months. And that was a I think I rushed into it. II. I haven't been, um, involved in a gay partnership as such since he caused me so much trouble in the finish. I don't know that he's even in the country today. Um, I've had lots of experiences with lots of guys. Um, no physical experiences? Yes, [00:16:00] from all around the world. Um, I've travelled the world, um, extensively. Particularly, uh, when I was married, I used to work very, very hard, and, uh, I always saw that I always considered that you've got to have time out, so to speak and and have a holiday. Um, And when when I, um, as a gay man, [00:16:30] I. I worked very hard for the first a few years when I broke up and set myself back up again. Worked seven days a week for about 18 months. Non stop to the company I work for the bosses come in and said, You're gonna have a break and I went away. And after that, I had to break every six months or every nine months or a year. One or two breaks a year. Um, about seven or eight years ago, I retired. Um, that took a lot of thinking. [00:17:00] Uh, yeah. I wonder how you're gonna get on and that. But ever since then, I've, um, travelled extensively, uh, extensively to, um, mainly to the east. Although I went to Europe in England and Ireland and Scotland and Wales because my my son and daughter were there, I went over there two or three times and went through Europe. Um, I've done a lot of Eastern countries in the last [00:17:30] few years, very expensive, and it's a hell of a long way to go over to Europe. Um, I, I found the Eastern cultures in particular. The Thai cultures are very, um they respect people, they respect each other, particularly as you're getting older. They respect the older, although I don't think the show the same respect as what they did 10 or 15 years ago. The world's getting smaller and they're not as respectful. [00:18:00] But by and large, most Eastern cultures respect each other. I've particularly noticed that. And, um, I've been, um yeah, I've been to 40 42 I think countries in the world. So it's a lot. That's most That's most because I've never done a head count. Which ones did you enjoy? Most, Most mostly. I used Thailand because, um, when I first went there about 15 years ago, I met a group of gay guys who were [00:18:30] in their forties and thirties and forties and fifties. And, uh, one particular guy that introduced me lived in New Zealand, and he introduced me to these guys and they took me under their umbrellas as a friend. And, um, I have a a Thai friend here that taught me to speak very limited Thai and, um, hello, how are you and et cetera, And, um, with with them I learned a lot [00:19:00] more, and they were they were a great company. And I still have a, uh, have a great rapport with them when I go back So if if travelling by myself as a gay man travelling by myself, I could land in Thailand. And, um, I had this group of guys that I knew and and I was never by myself, so to speak. Um, a very good friend of mine two weeks ago was here staying with me. He's got a New Zealand partner now, and [00:19:30] they live in, And, uh, when I come back from, they got lost a lot of things in the Christchurch earthquake, and they came back and and, uh, shared my home with them they now live in. So that friendship has been marvellous and still is marvellous. And so Thailand would be my base to go to Malaysia or Singapore or Indonesia and Laos. [00:20:00] Cambodia, Vietnam. I've been through Vietnam three times. I've been to China two or three times. Hong Kong. Uh, yeah. Do you do a lot of sightseeing when you're away? Yes, I do. Um, except the last couple of years. I went to Thailand. Uh, I didn't go this last winter. I don't like the winters in New Zealand, so I usually get out. But the winter before, I I had a lovely apartment I used to hire and John, Tim and, um, my daughter come over with her daughter at the time and my ex [00:20:30] come and she we I got a studio apartment for her, and I shifted out of my big apartment into a studio apartment on the same building, and they were there for a month. Um, and I was there for three or four months. Loved it. I think I loved the quietness of, you know, and also Bruce and were over there at the time, too. So and that was, you know, I had friends there, and it was it was great. Although you're by yourself, you're surrounded by friends. But I also knew a lot of expat [00:21:00] kiwis. Um, and and I got to know a lot of, um, Europeans as well as the Thais in that area. So for that reason, I kept going back there, um, and I had a base I could, um, a base to go from. I went down. We went from there down the Mekong River through or Laos that they know in New Zealand, but and, uh, on a boat, [00:21:30] that was, uh, an experience. So I like doing those sorts of things. Um, been through Cambodia. That was my son was going to come through Cambodia with me, and that was, uh I went back to Thailand about six weeks after my son. After my son's funeral, I was due to go the day of his funeral in New Zealand, and [00:22:00] I talked to him in South Africa before he died the week before he died. And he said to me, uh, I said to him How about coming to Cambodia with me because he was a photojournalist and he said he'd love that. He says, I said, Well, I can wait for you in Thailand and you can join me. Well, of course, the day his funeral was due to fly out and, um, the travel agent I booked through rang me up, or I booked through extensively. He's gay. [00:22:30] Guy rang me up and said, Mike, I won't give you my condolences now, but he says, Don't worry about your trip. I've spoken to the airline that you can take it any time you like. Your booking is safe. Um, and about six weeks later, I was sitting here at the bench over there and tears running down my face and I thought, I've got to shake myself out of this depression. So I picked up the phone and said to Steve, Get me out [00:23:00] of here And my doctor has since said it was the best thing I ever did. And, um, I went back to John. Tim and I met a gay guy there who had come back from England, and he was all upset about the fact that his partner had been playing away around while he was away, and he was breaking into tears. And I thought, I don't need this. So I up and left for, um, Cambodia. Just on the spur of [00:23:30] the moment went down and the next day was gone, and that was the best thing I did. And funny enough, I you meet people on the trips and I met up with a Swedish lady, and, uh, her and me headed off together. We were great friends. She knew I was gay and she had broken up with her husband, and we kept meeting up, meeting up on the way through Cam, Cambodia, and, uh, we had a great lot of time together, great fun. And, uh um That's how I come to get go through Cambodia anchor [00:24:00] and yeah, II, I have, you know, I've walked the great wall I've been to in China. I've as I said, been down the Mekong. I've been through Vietnam up to Halong Bay, ballooning with another friend over the mountains Balloon hot air ballooning. That's about five years ago. Um uh, a good friend, Alvin, He's he's been, uh, we've been away three or four times together. [00:24:30] We were going to go to, um, um Machu Picchu in Peru and then across to Rio de Janeiro and do South America. Um, and but unfortunately, I've been struck with this affliction I've got and I can't fly, But hopefully I'll get better, because if I don't, I can't go. And that's it. But hey, made hay while the sun shines, so to speak. And of course, [00:25:00] in all these places you go to you meet up with the odd gay guy and yeah, met some good friends, Chinese and otherwise. And so would you say you've had a good life. Apart from the obvious tragedy in it, I think everyone has a tragedy or two, in their life. Um, yes, I have. I worked very, very hard. Um, I I've enjoyed myself. [00:25:30] I've played hard. I've not played that hard, but I've made sure that I have the holidays and and and haven't, um I think hard work pays off, and, well, you can see, um, I got a reasonable Yes, Um, and I worked hard to get that, but I've always ensured that I've taken my breaks. And, um and I think that, um that rubbed off on the Children [00:26:00] too, I think because they travelled extensively. Um, and they would come back and tell me about their trips and travels, and I think probably from their mother and father going overseas. Um, I can remember. Oh, the kids were pretty small. We went, uh, to a conference and Singapore. And then from there we went through, uh, Malaysia and over to the Philippines [00:26:30] and back to New Zealand. And in those days 30 years ago was a over 30 years ago. Was, uh, was quite a trip, you know, So we had lots of experiences. As a matter of fact, that painting on the wall is the floating market in, and that's painted by my good friend. Now um, when you went to, uh in the 19 seventies to, uh, Bangkok, the floating market was just like that. And funnily enough, when I got [00:27:00] it, I was going through a whole lot of old cards and I found a postcard I'd sent my daughter and it was at the floating market. And it's very, very similar to that. Yeah, everything you see around in this room is from somewhere. That's those. Those light light standards are made from shells from the Vietnam War. Um, there's the the bridge and over there in, um, Prague. And [00:27:30] yeah, that's from Vienna and roams over there. And you can just I can just pick up any There's some of the soldiers from the imitation soldiers from CN. And so that that imitation cut over there was brought in, um, in, um uh, Limerick. I named him, uh, to my European friends. His name is Rick. And to my Asian friends, he's lim. [00:28:00] Well, we'll we'll, um, wrap this up, Mike, if you any advice, I usually say to people, if you have any advice for younger people these days, younger gay people, it's a different world to what we used to be. Um I don't think that I would get married today because I'd be more educated. Um, And you you know, about these things I didn't know about those, um, being gay and et cetera. So, I, I mean, I don't know that, um I can give [00:28:30] a lot of advice, but to I've met a few younger people that are, um though they're dead scared of coming out. Um, and you don't have to go around waving a banner and saying, Hey, I'm gay. I mean, no one in Auckland who I worked with knew I was gay. Why did they They didn't need to know that I was perhaps Roman Catholic or presbyterian or or or whatever. You don't go around waving a banner or I'm a Buddhist or [00:29:00] something. You you You can live a natural life, I. I think I lived. Um, no one would have known. And I still don't think no one would know me as a gay person. Um, and there's no reason. Um, OK, if you're that way inclined and you want to get dressed up and transvestites and those sort of things, I can't understand that. But that's that's another world you. You said you you wouldn't get married again. But, you know, you don't think the, [00:29:30] um well, it's balanced by the fact of having Children. I. I don't regret ever getting married. Certainly not certainly not. And I and and, um I think I think, um, yeah, it's it's hard to turn back knowing what you know now and and relate it to those times years ago. Um, I don't know what else I can say, but but if a lot of people there's a lot of help out there for those that [00:30:00] that are worried about being gay, the younger people, um, they they can live a there. There's a whole life out there and a whole society, particularly here in Auckland, but not only that anywhere. And they can integrate into society so easily, uh, these days and still be gay and and my friends that have gone to where they work, they've openly said, Well, we're gay and and no one, no one prejudges [00:30:30] as much as what they used to this day and age. If they if they if someone has a problem with it, that's their problem. It's not your problem, and you don't have to take that on board.

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AI Text:September 2023