By Nicole Murray Ramirez
Some years ago I moved into a senior housing complex that you have to be 65 years and older to move in. It’s a five story and it’s like the United Nations as the seniors who live here are from all over the world and you hear many languages being spoken. Living here has opened my eyes to a lot of things and I have become friends with many of my neighbors. Many of them are singled widows and some are couples and married. There are about four of us LGBT seniors living here, two are in the closet and avoid me like the plague and one is a campy old sissy and I just love talking to him and gossiping. I have learned a lot about the senior world that I live in and have realized that in so many ways I am blessed and lucky. I have many friends and am always very busy and going places while so many of my fellow seniors are lonely and many have children who don’t come around much or visit them at all.
But what I have noticed is that there is a sense of community in this five story building and many have made friends with each other and help each other out. For many these relationships are all they have and so these senior housing buildings are very important. I have learned that they actually serve a purpose and in a way everyone living here is lucky because so many seniors are alone and especially LGBT seniors. Living here is a reality check for me as ambulances come here weekly and take people to the hospital, and yes, many do not come back. And since I have been here quite a few have died. Because I am so busy and always doing something I have come to realize that just by being kind and nice to my fellow seniors and having conversations with them brightens their days as for some these conversations are the only ones they have.
I have read many reports and studies on the lives of many of our LGBT seniors and many lead very lonely lives, but finally our community is beginning to realize that just as we must focus on our LGBT youth we must start focusing on our LGBT seniors. I am glad that there are more services and activities for seniors at our San Diego LGBT Community Center. There are now even senior organizations and social clubs. People are now living longer, and our senior population is growing. As for me and how old I am let’s say between 70 and 90 lets leave it at that and my health at times goes up and down. I am diabetic and at times suffer from depression. I also have to use a cane to walk around but God has blessed me with good friends and an activist life that keeps me pretty busy. Living here has made me realize that in so many ways I am lucky as I have witnessed the lives of my fellow seniors around me and other LGBT seniors I know. I see seniors struggling to provide food for themselves and to get good medical care.
One of my fellow seniors I have become friends with is a 96-year young woman and her family all lives back east. She has a walker and I try to check in on her as I soon realized that all she has is all of us at “Shady Pines”. Everyone of course knows I am gay here and a group of us have become like the “Golden Girls” and become good friends.
The reason I am writing this column is to ask you to please ne nicer to seniors even if you just smile and say “hi” and strike up a conversation with them. It could make their day. We are all going to get old so we should treat each other better and yes care about each other. As for me I am more grateful than ever for my close friends and LGBT family. Indeed I am a lucky old queen.
— Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Nicolemrsd1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.