Michael's big day out at the Pride March
10 February 2015
Aged care services are changing and Michael's journey to his first Pride March is part of that change. He was able to attend his first march, which is part of Melbourne's gay and lesbian arts and culture festival Midsumma, with the assistance from the Coolibah Centre.
The annual gay Pride March this month in Melbourne was a landmark day for Michael, a member of the Brotherhood of St Laurence's Coolibah Centre for older people.
In his 70s, Michael has just come out as a gay man - and he says participating in the march provided him with 'one of the best most joyful days' of his life.
Here is his story:
'I was driven to St Kilda at 12.30pm by Chris from Glamourhead Sharks - Melbourne GLBTI Swimming Club. I borrowed a wheelchair from the Brotherhood.
'The rainy drizzle cleared away. I have never felt more welcome in my life.
'I joined Catherine's group marching behind King Neptune and the Fishes. All the girls in Catherine's group were dressed as mermaids.
'The most joyful people I have ever seen! Not one sign of anger, jealousy, argument - it was inspiring.
'It makes me so proud to be part of such a group. The march ended at Catani Gardens in St Kilda, where groups mingled.
'I have never in my life been to such a loving and inspiring gathering! I was driven home at 5.30pm by Chris. A day of gladness that I will long remember! I was born gay! I'm lucky!'
Michael is one of the many older people from the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) communities who come into contact with aged care services.
Older people from these communities have dealt with a lifetime of experiences of discrimination, violence, and past criminalisation of their sexuality and gender expression.
The Australian Government National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy recognises that because of these experiences their needs require more attention.
The Coolibah Centre is attuned to the different backgrounds and aspirations of its members - in Michael's case arranging for the Glamourhead Sharks swimming group to take him to the march and encouraging him to share his story, while recognising it is often difficult for older people to come out as he did.