Recently there was a sad, but interesting article in the Bay Area Reporter about LGBT seniors in San Francisco and how an alarming number of them are considering suicide because they can’t get the help and services they need. For all of us growing old, the sad truth is that most nursing homes and retirement facilities in America are filled with the last bastion of anti-gay bigots. For an LGBT person, it means dealing with hate at a point in your life when you are least prepared, physically or mentally, to do it.
For those of you who know me, you know that I’m simply not happy unless I have a creative challenge filling my days and nights, whether it’s writing, or designing and building beautiful things. I figure it’s time, as Bill and I face the need, to turn my attention to helping not only ourselves, but our LGBT family by doing what I can to make things better for us.
Three years ago we discovered a beautiful, eight story office building only blocks from our house in Guadalajara. It was only 25 years old, but has been sitting empty for the last 12 years. There was an old, faded for sale sign on the front. Vandals and graffiti had taken their toll. To make a long story short, I thought about turning it into a safe “Retire with PRIDE” place for us and our straight friends, but my timing couldn’t have been more wrong. With the real estate crash in the United States, and huge amount of inaccurate negative press Mexico was receiving because of the “drug wars”, Americans and Canadians were staying away in droves. Those who wanted to come either had no equity left in their homes or were unable to even sell them at any price… That building still sits empty and abandoned on La Paz Avenue.
We came to Mexico in our late 50’s because, being self-employed, we had reached a point where we were no longer able to buy any kind of health insurance we could afford. We did find one company but when Bill got sick and needed diagnostic tests done, his morning in the hospital produced a bill for over $10,000. When our insurance company refused to pay the claim, as we later found they did with 100% of the claims they received, we faced loosing everything. All of the seniors in the US who have retired in Mexico now face new challenges. The shear volume of expat retirees has overwhelmed an already troubled system of inexpensive medical care. Although the health care system here is excellent, Medicare does not cover any expenses for expats, so for many people, they are left facing the reality of having to return to the US in their senior years. Because of this I am refocusing my attention on a way to organize a smaller place for us…perhaps in Vallejo, CA, just a short ferry ride across the bay from San Francisco. We have no idea how we’ll make this happen, but it needs to be a place where LGBT seniors and people who enjoy being around us can afford to live, often only on Social Security and a little help from HUD housing assistance programs. Bill and I know this can happen. We know it because we also believe in the amazing powers of the Master Mind. Send your positive thoughts and ideas… we’re all ears.