Thank you for the generous feature Belper Golden Rainbows printed on October 19th.
Our new lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) support group has attracted a number of older gay men who, in some cases, have a tragic story to tell. Here is one of them.
This is about two blokes. I’ll call them Jed and Ben who met about 20 years back in a rough old pub. They are ordinary working class men from mining stock living in the shadow of slag hills in a Derbyshire town which has seen better days. Not well educated, not articulate, not the sort to make wills, just two gay men who keep their heads down hoping not to be noticed in a hostile homophobic landscape. They live close, but not in the same house sharing mutual love spending most of their time in Ben’s home.
In the last few months, Ben became ill and needed several spells in hospital keeping in touch with his younger partner via mobile phone.
Just before Christmas, Jed went to Ben’s house expecting him to be home. Arriving at the door, as usual, he let himself in with the key he had owned for years. Something was wrong! Furniture had been rearranged and an angry, ignorant, hostile woman confronted Jed, brutally insulting him with a torrent of abuse including false allegations in a homophobic rant. Ben’s sister had rummaged through his personal belongings during the days the house was empty. She was horrified to discover items which clearly identified her brother’s LGBT status and his deep love for a man.
She demanded Jed’s key and ordered him off the property. At no time during this hateful attack did she draw breath to mention the fact that Ben was dead! Jed’s parents and family knew of Ben’s passing. To preserve the shameful homosexual secret, the demise was never mentioned to the man most closely concerned.
Jed heard about the death of his loved one from chatter in his local pub. He uncovered funeral details from strangers and, for moral support, asked me to meet him outside the church and sit with him inside.
Like Jed, Ben was an atheist hostile to any kind of religious ceremony.
I have known this couple for nearly 20 years. I write this letter at the request of Jed, who, in the last few weeks up to the festive season, has been profoundly depressed trying to pick up the pieces of his broken life.
In 2018, this is an outrage. My partner Terry and I have been giving him as much comfort as we can.
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