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Solidarity Forever

December 17, 2019

Lawrence happily calls himself a “Proud Gay Grampy.” Bob cherishes being raised by older drag queen mothers. They instantly connected as friends after being paired through The 519’s Pals Connect Friendly Visiting Program.

Lawrence and Bob meet every week at a café in the Village. They seem to have a lot in common – including wit and a strong sense of humour. Another thing they have in common is the experience of social isolation.

Lawrence spent most of his life in Winnipeg until he came out to his family at the age of 44. He moved to Toronto 13 years ago to explore his new out life. He lives by himself in the Village and recently had to retire from his job because of health issues. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, it was a shocking change for him.

Feeling the pressure of isolation, Lawrence decided to participate in the Older LGBTQ2S Drop-in Program at The 519. He was looking for social activity in a smaller group setting and decided to explore Pals Connect as a program participant.

“Loneliness has such stigma attached to it. It is real for older queer people living alone.”

Bob grew up in Calgary under the wing of senior drag queens. Although his journey has been different than Lawrence’s, he recently found himself reevaluating his professional and personal paths.

“You lose a lot of friends when you decide to change your life.”

Bob has been engaged with The 519 as a program participant in various community engagement activities including mindfulness programs and Sew What?, a skill-building sewing workshop. He has also been volunteering to support various programs at The 519 throughout the year. The volunteer opportunity with Pals Connect instantly appealed to him.

“We are able to be open and out today because of the struggles and sacrifices of older queer and trans people. It’s time for the younger generation to acknowledge that and do something for them.”

Lawrence and Bob support each other in moments when reassurance is needed and feel that they balance each other. Lawrence’s own experience with drastic life changes helps him relate to Bob, and Bob’s respect for and association with older queer and trans people make him a dedicated friend.