Catch Me If I Fall… Gay Life in the Third Age

Catch Me If I Fall… Gay Life in the Third Age

Fifteen years of marriage have brought us happiness and contentment in our personal lives. After both working in the gay scene for 30 years (and therefore having no prospect of getting a pension) we decided it was time to leave the urban gay scene, move to the countryside and start a new life, more suited to our needs as we grew older. We slowly built up a new circle of friends and neighbours and started a new business selling antiques, growing herbs and giving workshops.

www.hogelandshoeve.be

Then, after 20 years of building a small but steady farm business in Holland, our landlord suddenly wanted us out! We were confronted with the choice of either downsizing or taking on a new challenge. We chose the latter and decided to move to Belgium where we could hope to rebuild a bigger and better business and support our modest lifestyle. Although it meant giving up all our savings, we were determined to build a new life in which we could continue to work into ‘old age’, and confident that we were strong enough to succeed.

Our Dutch friends told us how ‘brave’ we were! Our gay friends told us how ‘lucky’ we were! Our new neighbors told us how happy they were to welcome us to Belgium. And we kept in touch with everyone with regular newsletters and updates to our website.

After we landed, the paperwork took most of a year to organize. We scratched our way through immigration, health insurance, car registration, residency permits, work permits, and myriad other forms until we eventually felt that we were beginning to settle. We opened our new farm-shop and found slots at local markets where we could start to sell our produce. We made friends with other local farmers. We started to grow our business again and get support from the local community.

But we had still overlooked the snakes in the grass. Our new business started to grow and we sold well in the summer months. Then we learned that the Belgian government wants not only the Sales Tax for the summer, but six months of Sales Tax in advance(!) and, with our savings already gone, we face a cash crisis. The income we can generate at this point will not pay for both the advance taxes and the investment we need in equipment and to build up our stock. Retailers and restaurants want to buy our products in the future, but we still have a big investment to find before we are ready to supply them.

We’ve decided to try crowd-funding now, hoping that our friends and community will possibly step in to save us from going over the cliff, but we have no idea whether it will work. Does a lifetime of being responsible citizens, good, caring friends, and generous in helping others really bring us any ‘social capital’? We’re biting the bullet now and will shortly know the answer.

Two-Gay-Men-Start-Organic-Farm-Sharing-their-Story-as-Entrepreneurs-Seeking-Investors-Capital-Funding

If we were straight folks then we would perhaps have a better chance. But our social circle has been decimated by HIV, leaving lots of them sick and living on benefits. Others have moved away  and are no longer as close as we would like. And since we are no longer shopping around for casual sex, we seem to have little direct contact with the majority of the LGBT community. Of course, there are many others in a similar situation; couples living in the country with a few cats, but we haven’t yet found a way to meet the older rural gay community with whom we can build a network.

The business keeps us both busy for 16 hours a day, up to our elbows in jam and manure, with little time to work on anything else. That’s not unexpected with a new business, but makes us feel isolated, fearful, and sometimes overwhelmed by events around us. It’s hard to stay focused when the whole project has become precarious.

We don’t regret our decisions, nor would we consider moving back to the city life as two older gay men with their youthful excesses long gone. However it’s still hard to see what ‘community’ we can develop beyond it.

We’d love to hear from others who recognise themselves in this story. Perhaps you can help us find the way forward or just want to offer us a web-hug? And finally, of course, perhaps YOU are in a position to help us with our crowd-funding campaign?  gf.me/u/v24yri

Hogelandshoeve BV
Sint Annastraat, 29
3730 Hoeselt
Belgium

How to Make Your [Gay] Money Work as Hard as You Do - LGBTQ Personal Finance Education Debt Reduction - OutBuro - bisexual queer lesbian transgender

How to Make Your [Gay] Money Work as Hard as You Do

Do you all too often have more month left over at the end of your money? Do you work hard for your paycheck only to watch it go out faster than it comes in? Do you ever wonder how you’ll put your children through school?

You’re not alone. The truth is that even though “gays are fabulous” (and we are), most of our community is struggling financially.

And we can relate.

Learn more about the Debt Free Guys’ LGBTQ Personal Financial Freedom course and resources.

Who are we?

We are John and David. After dating for 18 months, we came out of the closet to each other about our money, and it wasn’t pretty. We were $51,000 in credit card debt. Ouch! Sure, everything looked good on the outside. But we were hurting on the inside.

We were the gay cliché of being fabulous but fabulously broke. Ever feel this way?

You see, coming from times and places when it wasn’t okay to be gay, we were both bullied, picked and treated differently because we were – well – different. We grew up feeling like we weren’t as good as the other kids. Can you relate?

Then, when we found the courage to come out of the closet and moved away from our families to find other people like us, we were so insecure and wanted so desperately to fit in with the other gays, that we thought we needed all the right things – clothes, home, travel, careers, partners, stuff – all the right outward appearances – so we wouldn’t be bothered by another community. Our community. Sound familiar?

We paid off that credit card debt in less than three years! It took a lot of soul-searching, and we attribute that success to figuring out what was most important to us. Sixteen years later, today, we’re helping other queer people achieve the same financial security.

Are you living fabulously broke - Learn to be debt free with the DebtFreeGuy

Is queer money different than straight money?

If you thought you (and now us) were alone in this struggle, did you know that:

  • same-sex couples with at least one child under the age of 18 have 20% more credit card debt than their straight peers and have almost 90% more student loan debt?
  • queer college graduates have 16% more student loan debt than non-queer graduates?
  • 57% of our community says their current financial condition harms their mental health?

So, no, you’re not alone. Yes, our community has systematic and personal struggles with money. Yes, there’s something we can do about it but knowing there’s a problem isn’t enough.