My friend Jim has died, and I want you to know about him. Jim was 84, a recently retired therapist, a man of courage and integrity, kind in every situation in which I ever saw him, a great gardener and cook. He was also radically free, a gay man who came out at a time when it was much more difficult than for many today, and who once told me "It does not occur to me to feel fear."
His public obituary does not mention his sexual orientation, and many of us friends did not find out about his death until a week later, and after the funeral had already taken place.
I know he was well cared for in recent months, but I do not know why the obituary omits some of the most important details of his life; and I do not know why so many of us were not contacted so that we could pay our respects. It's possible that the next of kin simply didn't know how to find us.
But I think there are a couple of really important things to listen to here:
1: Older LGBTQ people may have less connection to their given families, and more to chosen ones; and given families may not have any connection at all to the chosen. Please reach out to your LGBTQ family today, and continue to take steps toward consciously creating a community that will care for each other when health declines, and be visible when the time comes to assist with the journey of dying.
2: Don't wait til health declines to tell people what they really mean to you, ask each other what we need, check in on your neighbors. The path to beloved community begins with beloved community.
Thank you Jim. I'll miss our walks. I'm grateful to have known you