How do we live in the Third Age?

CREATED ON // Thursday, 04 September 2014 Written by // Dr Gertrude Glossip

Dr Gertrude Glossip reflects on ageing and the importance - or not- of possessions in this material world.

Dear readers, I hardly know where to turn! Will’s demolished our house and placed most of our possessions in storage. My frock and accessory collection is ‘scattered to the four winds’! We’re ‘couch surfing’ and relying on kindness of friends. Oh, it’s a precarious existence for one such as I!

And to add insult to injury, at the recent Philip Glass Trilogy (what a show!), darling Jane button-holed Will about passing on some ‘decommissioned’ frocks she thought I’d fancy. But where shall I store them? Oh, life can be hard!

Of course it’s only temporary; it’s all part of the ‘Grand Design’ for our Third Age. This question of how to live the Third Age is an important one, especially for Rainbow Family members who haven’t offspring. It’s an issue our Boomer Generation is now encountering. Of course Treasurer ‘Joke’ Hockey would have us work until we topple into our graves at some advanced age!

Would you choose to reside in a Rainbow Retirement Village? What about living in a Rainbow Aged Care Facility? Personally, I’ve never favoured ‘ghettoism’. I’ve always preferred to live in an integrated society. I believe the better approach is to challenge homophobia wherever and whenever one encounters it. And this applies to our Rainbow Seniors; educate aged-care workers so that they understand and embrace sexual and gender diversity.

Will’s solution: demolish his crumbling 1950s house and build a state-of-the-art dwelling consisting of two pods (hopefully not too vanilla!); one for us and one for sister Anni, with a connecting gallery. (He’s even incorporating trompe-l’oeil!) We’ll look out for each other yet have our independence for our Third Age. The design is based on the Frank Lloyd Wright principle ‘form follows function, with good orientation, insulation and ventilation.

Will’s had a terrific battle with local government whose attitude was sooo last century and focused on replicating the ‘character homes’ of the zone. The resulting façade puts Will in mind of Patrick Dennis’s Belle Poitrine, of Little Me fame, who insisted on ‘enhancing’ her Frank Lloyd Wright home!

This whole exercise has caused me to reassess the importance, or not, of the material world and possessions generally. This reflection is all the more potent when one considers the terrible strife and destruction around the planet – Syria, Iraq, Gaza.

Dear readers, I’m reminded of Robert Gray’s aphorism, and a fave of Patrick White: All that’s important is the ordinary things; making the fire to boil some bath water, pounding rice, pulling the weeds and knocking dirt from their roots, or pouring tea. Those blown scarves, a moment more beautiful than the drapery in paintings by a master. It is this world of the dharmas, the atoms which is the diamond.


Dr Gertrude Glossip

Dr Gertrude Glossip

Will Sergeant, Master of Health Service Management, Flinders University, and Dr Gertrude Glossip, PhD (Formal Drapery), Curtain University, are two sides of the one coin. Will has been involved in gay activism since the 'Halcyon 70s' – first Adelaide Pride March (1973) and first Sydney Mardi Gras (1978). Gertrude 'emerged' in the 1990s and has made many appearances in both queer and straight communities. She has led every Feast Queer History Walk since its inception in 1997 and has 'scribbled' her fortnightly blaze column since 2003. Her Wild Sex zoo tours are legendary. Both are fierce anti-discriminationists and committed secular polyamorists!

Comments (1)

  • Jo Harrison

    07 September 2014 at 12:54 |
    Thank you Dr Glossip for raising the very important question of how we want to live in the third age. In addition to educating service providers, we need LGBTI controlled solutions, so that LGBTI people over 60 are given opportunities to play the leading role in solutions and developments in LGBTI aged care that impact on them. This means not just tokenistic 'involvement' or 'consultation' or even 'empowerment' - very popular jargon across LGBTI aged care these days. It means self-determination, playing a controlling and decision making role in the organisations and projects and research and services that seek to 'speak for' but really are 'speaking about' LGBTI elders. It means putting people over 60 in the drivers seat, not the back seat, or on the bus without an offer of a bus fare to speak at a conference where they notice no one else there over 60. It means activists over 60 in conjunction with other LGBTI elders running their own conferences, roundtables, seminars, education projects, management boards, research projects, policy forums, and also being the majority of members of similar bodies set up by LGBTI organisations, researchers, and advocacy bodies, as well as mainstream bodies. On this front LGBTI ageing and aged care in Australia is seriously lacking and has failed to bring LGBTI people over 60, particularly those with an activist track record and an understanding of why neo-conservative solutions will only harm our elders, into the response to any serious or useful extent. LGBTI elders will eventually respond to this, as they did in the USA. The sooner the better. Dr Jo Harrison


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