Meet Your Neighbor: Ric Suarez

I live in Astoria, I’m 71, and I’m a gay senior. I married my wife in 1970, and we have two kids. They all know about me. Coming out wasn’t nearly as difficult as leaving  the kids, the house, all the friends. My wife is supportive; to this day, we stay in close contact. My son and daughter know. My granddaughters know. I don’t hide anything. We are a family. I always say, “You don’t have to follow a plan. It's like you’re in the jungle and you have a hatchet and you cut your own way through. Don’t necessarily  follow the existing path."

There are a lot of young gay people out there who don’t listen when we “old folks” talk. But we have a responsibility to embrace them. We struggled to get where we are, and I encourage them to learn from what we did. Walk into a place and be secure in knowing that, “I’m gay, and I’m a good person. I’m an American, a Democrat, an Italian, whatever...and I’m also gay.” Gay is not the everything.

I’ve been a member of QCH’s Queens Center for Gay Seniors since 2008, and it’s helped me in a lot of ways. When I first came here, I had just retired.  I was alone and looking for friends and things to occupy my time. I came to the center and found a group of people who were welcoming, friendly, smart, and fun. I joined an exercise group, an acting group, and a writing group. Prior to that I was stuck in the house, and that's no way to age.

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