Finding Another Soulmate


Barry

This guy reminds me of Barry. Photo courtesy of aumag.org.

My buddy “Barry” and I were instant messaging on Facebook Saturday night. It was a depressing exchange.

Barry is middle-aged and lives alone. I have invited him to events but he has always declined, probably because it is a brick for him to come all the way up to Baltimore from northern Virginia.

“I seriously doubt that I will ever again be completely happy, but I am content,” he texted.

His comment was understandable. Barry has been through some shit in the past three years.

Barry was partnered with a white military officer who had left his wife and children when he realized he wanted to stop faking the straight life and express his gay sexuality.

Barry and “Winston” got along famously for years– they lived in a high-rise luxury apartment building with a view of the Washington, D.C. skyline, had season tickets to the Redskins, and enjoyed having swinging parties with a small group of friends.

But all that ended with Winston died by suicide.

Trust me, when and or if you get to be my age and you’re all alone, no family or friends, your perspective may very well change.

Winston’s family had never accepted his gayness or the fact he was living with Barry, so they were not supportive. Winston had to fight to get an insurance settlement.

Still, Barry could not afford the lifestyle he used to have with Winston. So he gave up the luxury apartment with a doorman and penthouse recreation room and moved to a modest garden apartment.

Compounding the issue is that Barry was also married and had children, who rejected him when he came out as gay. So losing Winston was probably like losing all his family in one fell swoop.

When I visited Barry I noticed he drank Scotch constantly and chain smoked. The stale smell of cigarette permeated his apartment. The bags under his eyes were heavier, leaving him looking tired.

“But who knows I could have another soulmate out there so I don’t give up hope,” he texted me Saturday night.

That comment bothered me.Prince Charming only exists in fairy tales.

I told Barry that no one is truly your soulmate. No relationship is perfect. There are things about my partner “Van” I don’t like and Lord knows there are even more things about me that drive him crazy. However, you have to find a happy medium.

And I think,  although he didn’t want to admit it, that Barry missed the lifestyle that Winston was able to provide. I know for a fact Barry worked jobs that didn’t earn near as much as a military officer.

When I told Barry that I didn’t think soulmates exist he scoffed at me.

“What a crock LOL,” he texted. “You obviously have not met your soulmate as most don’t.”

“Trust me, when and or if you get to be my age and you’re all alone, no family or friends, your perspective may very well change.”

His comments were depressing but I refused to let them get me down. I also tried to keep in mind Barry is still mourning Winston and always will. Sometimes it takes years to reconstruct your life after someone close dies.

Still, I tend to be optimistic. Shoot, read my blog. I have come so far in the past five years. I have been truly blessed. And Van is a great, supportive guy.

And I believe in keeping engaged. I volunteer, am active in church, try to keep up with friends, and endeavor to eat healthy and exercise. My mother was a widow and she told me getting counseling and getting active is a way to learn to live with grief.

So I decided not to argue with Barry. I really had not walked in his shoes so I couldn’t judge.

“We will see, the future is unknown,” I texted.

“True, but easily anticipated,” Barry answered.

Q: Readers, what do you think? Do you think as you age as a gay man you will end up alone and lonesome?

23 thoughts on “Finding Another Soulmate

  1. People die alone, I think. True soulmates? I’ve had a few and think they are out there, though only one has been romantic, rather than platonic. Prince Charming-types need not apply, from what I know of them. Barry seems hopeful, yet realistic. God Bless. Sounds like Barry and “Winston” cared for each other and felt comfortable. I’d miss the man’s loss too.

  2. My first long term relationship was 5 years – mostly of hell. I finally dumped his azz and within two months I met someone who was truly special on a “sexually oriented” gay website. Neither of us were looking for anything more than a quick fuck, but one fuck turned into 2 or 3 fucks and then we started to get to know each other better. And we decided that we were kind of a fit with each other. And he was sexy……and the sex was damn nice.

    We’ve been together since 2002, commitment ceremony in 2004, married in 2008. We compliment each other really well – we each have talents and interests that the other one doesn’t which gives us a well rounded life.

    Now……if something were to happen to him, I would be heartbroken and at a loss. Our friends would rally around me for a while, but after a time they get back to their own lives. Dating in SoCal at my age is a scary proposition and I wouldn’t know where to start. I imagine all of my straight female friends would try to set me up with their gay male friends – so there’s that. But I can imagine it would be hard to find someone who was in my age range. Not only did a lot of people my age die in the 80’s and 90’s, we’re now kind of set in our ways (not ME of course – I am very malleable. Hell, you can fold me in half like a pretzel and do whatever you’d like with me. I aim to please.).

    I would suggest to your friend that he stay active and build a circle of friends – straight AND gay, singles and couples. And do things with them frequently. We entertain a lot, especially at the holidays and during the summer. Xmas dinner for 16 and summer parties for 30-40 are a great way for us to bring together very diverse groups of straight and gay friends. They play well together and there’s no pressure to “interview” for a mate or fuck buddy.

    I don’t know if that helps, but that’s my two cents’ worth.

  3. I turned 60 last month. Life is what you make it. I keep busy…reading, teaching part time, exercising, church, etc. I don’t have a regular ‘Boo’, but I can get sex when I want it. I am content and happy with myself!!

  4. I don’t get the need for people to live their lives as if waiting in to ” rescue” them. True happiness and fulfillment doesn’t come from finding someone to make you happy. That happiness only comes when you are happy in your solitude.
    As far as your friend Barry is concerned, I’m not sure how these guys get involved in these complex relationships and expect a positive outcome. When a lover passes away, if he has children and expect to be his beneficiary, unless stated as such, it’s the height of idiocy. I’m not in a relationship, but I’m happy, contented, if I met someone that can join me, so be it but if it doesn’t happen, my life goes on.
    My partner as I envision him MUST be a man of color, be conscious of himself as a Black man, be cultural aware and just in general love himself and his have self pride. Not down with the swirl..He must be a reflection of me.
    Anyway a suh me see it. Nice article Emmanuel.

    • I totally agree with you Rodney. It frustrating to see a grown man feeling sorry for himself waiting for someone to rescue him. If you can’t learn to be happy alone you won’t be happy as a mate. I could see his attitude turning off potential dates. His predicament also underscores the need for partners to have solid insurance policies and wills.

  5. I just reread your post.. Barry seems somewhat bitter. He may be struggling with the loss. When someone commits suicide, clearly I don’t know the details, but it can be an act of defiance to those left behind. I hope he will find inner peace and move on with his life. He may still be going through the stages of loss, grief. Maybe even anger at his partner because he feels he made the choice to abandon him when he killed himself. Give him time.

    • I get “giving him time”. But how much time do you give a friend before you step in AS A FRIEND and try to drag them back into the real world? Barry’s had time to move and set up a new household. He’s had time to get an insurance settlement after battling his partner’s family. His partner clearly didn’t die yesterday.

      So…..how long do you let him sit in his garden apartment alone, feeling sorry for himself, drinking scotch and smoking cigarettes? Yeah, he doesn’t have the high rise apartment with the doorman anymore. But some people will NEVER have that. So do you let him sulk and feel sorry for himself because he had to move, or do you encourage him to relish the time that he had with his partner who provided him with the ability to enjoy that lifestyle?

      There is a huge difference between watching someone die of a degenerative condition and having someone die from suicide. My husband has major heart disease. We’ve dealt with it since 2004 and I nearly lost him a couple of times since then. It’s scary as fuck, it’s stressful as fuck and it’s exhausting as fuck. Suicide has to fuck with your head even more however because there’s no chance to prepare for it or to say goodbye. I’m sure there is a lot of bitterness and recrimination that takes place after a suicide. But it’s not healthy. Your friends – and I mean true FRIENDS – need to step in, slap the shit out of you and try to get you back on track. They need to make you understand that your life isn’t over and that his death wasn’t your fault. They need to make you see that you are no good to anyone feeling bitter and/or sorry for yourself, sitting in the dark at home, smoking cigarettes, drinking scotch and watching game shows on the DVR. And they need to make you understand that your suicidal partner wouldn’t have wanted you to retreat into your shell and shut everyone out. This was THEIR problem, not your problem.

      What would you want your friends to do for you if you were like that? What would you do for your friends if they were like that? Depression can be deadly.

      • Wow great comment. So true. Okay it has motivated me. I’m going to reach out to him again and dammit we are going out. And oh I forgot to mention his zodiac sign is Cancer. Cancers tend to stay all up in their feelings.

  6. I feel like I’m on both sides. I hold out hope that my soul mate is out there but at the same time I’m realistic in the sense that part of me knows I may not find the one. Especially in this lifestyle.
    I’ve noticed that many older gay men love to smoke and drink. And while I don’t have a problem with either of those as a recreational activity. It seems most older gay men do it to the point that it permanently becomes apart of their aura.
    I’ve come across so many older gay men whose breath reek of alcohol.
    I feel bad for Barry. I don’t understand how gay men can just leave their significant other behind so casually. I read about a gay pornstar who committed suicide after discovering the body of his lover.
    I would never be so selfish as to hang myself knowing full well my lover will be the one to happen upon body.
    I think Barry will find another Winston. Probably not one that is as well off but I hope it wasn’t just about the money. Tho that reminds me of those women who get divorced from athletes claiming they should get alimony because they’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.
    Immanuel I had been meaning to ask, since you mentioned there are things about Van that bug you and vice versa. I remember you saying you didn’t like Van’s feminine mannerisms or characteristics. I take it you must have gotten over that because I’ve noticed you sticking up for feminine gay men.

    • Yeah I’m still working on it! Great comment Gimme. You have to realize a lot of older men grew up in an Era of extreme homophobia. I think that’s why you see such alcohol and drug abuse.

  7. I wonder why Winston committed suicide? I wonder if Barry was his soul mate???? Hard to believe that no signs of suicidal behavior was observed if they were so tight. I think it’s a lot more to this story. Just saying…….I do wish Barry well and will def pray for him…..

  8. I am a longtime reader of your blog Immanuel. On this subject i felt that I must chime in. I am a 67-year old gay man who has had several wonderful long-term relationships. I thought my love life was over at 53 but I was very wrong. I met the love of my life. He was 17 years my junior and we had the most adventurous, loving, supportive, non-stop exciting relationship for 11 years. He died three years ago after suffering the ravages of diabetes and kidney disease. In many ways he was my soul mate. Our bond was further strengthened because our families loved, respected and supported us. After he passed, I was alone but not lonely pursuing interests that I have always enjoyed. Fast forward to today, I am in yet another relationship totally different than my previous one. Although I am beyond “middle” age I remain active and am interested in a lot of things to remain interesting. I write to say that us older guys are not all “stuck” in our ways. Loving another is not over for you just because you age. It’s about learning, expanding, improving, re-inventing, re-creating and becoming the best you …. you can be. Thank you so much for this forum in which to share.

  9. I think he is grieving big time…he needs to see a therapist or join a support group. I went to one after my dad died….they really help…..in that support group …..there were people dealing with a loved ones battle with Alzheimers as well as persons dealing with the death of a loved one…..people were grieving over losses recent and longstanding,,,it is a personal thing….as far as soulmates…..I have only had one and my partner had one,,,,,there were struggles and problems in both relationships….if we break up I am scared of finding someone at my age,,,but stuff happens…I just turned 57 on the the 11th of February

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