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BAB is a partnership of individuals and organisations working together to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
Colin’s story is about coming out in your 60s and how it is never too late to be yourself. In June 2017 it will be 8 years since Colin, who will be turning 69 this year, came out.
Colin had a good childhood and he was always surrounded by women – his mother, two sisters, grandmother and two aunties. He never knew his dad, but has been told he lived until he was 89 (Colin plans to live until 90). As a teenager, Colin played in a rock band and wanted to become the greatest drummer of all times. Instead, he ended up as an apprentice carpenter. Around that time he found out that he was attracted to the same sex, but he never had any boyfriends or girlfriends. He then got married for the first time and now has three grown up sons. His first marriage lasted 30 years.
However, when Colin was in his mid-50s, his wife started to suspect he might be gay. He kept this a secret from his family for quite a few years, before starting to think he should make a change in his life. “I thought I don’t want to go to my grave not being the person that I actually was”, he says. In 13 June 2009, he moved out to a garden flat in Fishponds. It was his fist time living on his own. “I prepared myself to be living as a single man on my own for rest of my days”, Colin tells the audience. However, things were about to change.
In November 2009 Colin saw an advert for Rainbow Café in Bath on Venue Magazine. After a quick phone call to get more information, Colin eventually built up the courage to visit the café for the first time. This changed his life. Everyone in the café was welcoming, introducing themselves and their friends. Colin soon became a member of the organisation running the café – Gay West – and is still a member today. Early 2010 Colin became very friendly with one of the men in the café and started getting involved in setting up the café. “I enjoyed, at last, being the man that I actually was”, Colin declares. While he felt he was going “off the rails a bit” and his family was not always impressed with this, Colin felt as if he was in his teens again, making up for lost time.
Colin then joined the committee of Gaywest and was elected to take over the running of the café in 2011. It was now his turn to welcome people to the café. “In September 2013 I became the chairman of the organisation and was helplessly falling in love and started life as a retired man”, Colin tells the audience. Early 2015, after a lifesaving operation for his partner, Colin asked his partner to marry him. While he kept Colin waiting all day for a response, his partner eventually said yes. The couple got married and Colin describes the wedding day as one of the most wonderful days of his life. The happily married couple now have a new house and new life, and Colin spends lots of his time making furniture in the garage.
Gaywest was started in Bath by gay men and women to fight for equality for LGBT people in 1971 – around the same time when Colin was dreaming of becoming a rock star. A lot has been achieved since then, and the organisation is celebrating its 46th year in 2017, supporting LGBT people in finding love and friendship. Colin feels he owes a lot to Gay West as the organisation truly changed his life. If it wasn’t for Gaywest “we would never have met, we would never be madly in love and as happy as we are today”, Colin said, “So you see, it’s never too late for things to improve and change.”
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