Anthony Carter

Age 40+ Gay Black Male Seeking a Love Community

Filed By Anthony Carter | March 14, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: black, love, male

In communities of color in other parts of the world , there is no such thing as orphans and single parents.

91-walker.jpgChildren are not left alone and people are not removed or shoved out of communities once they reach a certain age. In other words, in some places people do not have an expiration date on their minds, abilities, and what they can contribute to society once they have reached a particular number of years.

Originally, I wanted to draw attention to the ways we as Americans, particularly gay Americans, isolate and are excommunicated from the community at large.

Instead, I realized that so much of what gets done to folks in general by the larger society is what is really pissing me off.

When I lived in Japan, one of the jobs I held was assisting mentally challenged adults with acquiring English skills. After obtaining these skills, the goal was to reinstate them into society as productive, contributing society members. It prevented homelessness.

In Native American society, the beardache, recognized for their particular type of cherished masculinity, were given a great deal of societal importance and responsibility. Both of these societies, though miles apart, commit to taking care of their citizens.

People are not discarded. They are given a place in society.

In America, we could learn to do the same. All over this country, people are miserable, worried and struggling. This is not new.

I have friends who were around during the depression. There have always been poor people, addictions, and financial stress.

What is the difference between then and now ? The commitment used to be to the community and getting to know one another. The commitment was to the "Let's find a place for you" type of thinking.

This is not to say that everything was perfect or romanticize the struggles other generations endured. It is merely to point out what worked and to figure out why and how this can be reapplied to today's standards given the current circumstances.

What did we know and what did we do that allowed us to not only get along but also to thrive?

I come from a long line of folks who had to create lives amidst absolutely incredulous racism, violence and oppression. Somehow they did it.

I cringe when I hear people talk about being tired or depressed. Not because I think one doesn't get tired but because the folks I knew never had that luxury; they kept on pushing.

When you have four of five children and are responsible for everyone's well-being, a nap and the inability to get out of bed aren't really options.

You have to pull it together and get on with it. How? You are able to soldier on when you know you are part of something. When you know you are needed and that people are depending on you, it makes the fight and the resulting victory all the more sweet.

Everyone has a place in society. Everyone has something valuable to contribute.

This is why I am so against retirement. Who can continue to grow without adding something to society at large? People need reasons to get up.

I would love to see a time when folks don't retire. A time when folks instead are assigned roles as community elders, given homes, sought out and compensated for their knowledge and thinking ability.

It would be great if old folks were not shipped off to homes with other old folks but instead were given/granted a new role in their families. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see folks excited about getting older?

It would be incredible witnessing folks planning all the ways they will increase their value and strategizing how to rewrite the script of the lives of the ones they hold dear.

It would be even more exciting if the community around these elders couldn't wait to live with, be advised by, provide service, and care for them in their later years.

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I know this isn't where you were going with this, but I think your dream of no retirement may soon be realized if the ruling class is successful in eliminating state pension funds and social security. Soon 86-year-olds will know the joy of waiting tables!

The first part of your blog post struck me - and it is true - there are few orphans, not just in communities of color, but in general. Overwhelmingly children in "orphanages" are there because the people who love and take care of them were not able to financially. It's an issue that the LGBTQ community needs to investigate and examine, as more and more of us are adopting particularly across racial and ethnic lines.

Debra Porta | March 14, 2011 8:33 PM

I would REALLY disagree that we have gotten worse. We have NEVER been a society that tried to find a place for everyone. Insane asylums, poor houses, "spinsters" relegated to their parents' house-because obviously they have no other use by society, and the list goes on. We even used to force sterilization so that those "useless" people wouldn't make MORE useless people. I don't disagree that we should be addressing these issues, including within the LGBTQ community itself, but to yearn for getting back to something that never was, is pointless and unimaginative. I don't want us to go back-I want us t finally move forward to somewhere we have never been.

Agreed about some of the "solutions" we've invented over time like the asylums & poor houses. Sadly tho, I think closing all of the state mental hospitals contributed dramatically to the amount of homelessness after so many folks were pitched out and on to the streets where they had less access to medical assistance. Without mess, some aren't able to continue to function as easily, keep a job, etc. It's a vicious cycle.

L.A. Kuntz | March 15, 2011 6:55 PM

It's true we know what doesn't work, hasn't worked in the past. But a vision of cherishing our elders or those who are different is the message and one that collective cultures are better at. I like the dream. a lot.