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Elderly gay men shrug off guilt after life of denial(3)

2013-02-08 08:37 Global Times     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment

Finding companionship

Like the movie Beginners that tells a story about a straight son and his dying gay father, many adult children find it hard to accept a gay father who wants to do something about the feelings he had repressed for decades. Zhou Shengjian, director of a gay advocacy group in Chongqing, is trying to help.

"Education may promote a reduction in anti-homosexual prejudice among young people. They might find it hard to accept at the beginning, but in the end of the day, they respect their father's choice," Zhou told the Global Times.

"But with conditions of course," he continued. "As long as their father doesn't leave the family and sleep around they are fine with it," he continued.

As gay and lesbian people age, they are entering into a kind of dangerous isolation.

"What most of elderly gay men need is not money, but love and company," Zhou said.

About 10 years ago, Zhou wanted to borrow the idea from the US to open up a nursing home for Chinese elderly gay men. It is like a "gay utopia" where elderly gay people can avoid social discrimination and pressure and get good care. Similar projects exist in Europe, especially Germany, where young and old gay people share communities.

However, many elderly gay people also express concerns that they couldn't hide their sexuality any more if they moved into such a nursing home. The idea was soon abandoned as there was no official support and finances available.

Last year, Spain's first gay nursing home passed its first hurdle by getting land for the project in a Madrid suburb. China still has a long way to go.

But solutions are emerging. Zhou and his volunteer team are working on a one-to-one home-care network. Young volunteers pay visit to single elderly gay people regularly and call them on a daily basis.

"Many young gay people are attracted to charming older gay men and wiling to take care of them," Zhou said.

"But we have rules: no relationships. If they fall in love, the volunteer has to go," Zhou added.

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