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“spread the word and try to help other peo- ple who might have problems with coming out as gay,” he says. “There were only 12 of us chosen, so it was an honor to be selected and to share my story with everybody.”


“A pioneer” In June, The Fountains community honored Ellis with a special book-signing event and reception. More than 60 people attended, and all 35 copies of the book, which helped raise funds for local LGBT+ youth, were sold.


“I was just surprised at the people that


“There were only 12 of us chosen” for the book, says Ronnie Ellis, “so it was an honor to be selected and share my story with everybody.”


ment to doing the right thing as well as our culture of person-centered care.”


Proud of their neighbor One person chosen to participate in the project is Ronnie Ellis Jr., a resident at Wa- termark’s The Fountains at The Albemarle in Tarboro, N.C., a small town of about 11,000 people. Ellis, who moved into The Fountains in 2019, is well known in his native Raleigh as a founder of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood, where he and sever- al neighbors helped save the 19th-century neighborhood from a planned expressway in the 1970s. Julie Daugherty, executive director of


The Fountains at The Albemarle, says that when Watermark began looking for partic- ipants in “Not Another Second,” Ellis was the first name to come to mind. She called him immediately and told him she thought it would be an amazing opportunity, and he said he would think about it. Eventually he agreed, and Daugherty couldn’t be more thrilled that he did. Seeing him participating “was like a


proud momma moment for me, even though he is very much my elder,” Daugh- erty says. “We were very excited to have him be a part of a national event. For little old Tarboro to have someone be a part of that was just awesome.” Ellis, 79, reveals that he “lost” 54 years.


He met Earl, the love of his life, in his 30s. For a quarter-century, they kept a low-pro- file relationship to protect Earl’s status as a public school principal, but they eventually came out and lived together as a couple un- til Earl’s death. “I came out, and I am glad I did, because we had a good life together and did lots of wonderful fun things,” Ellis says in the book. For Ellis, the opportunity to participate in “Not Another Second” has allowed him to


did come out that I would not have thought would be that much into the gay communi- ty,” Ellis says. “I was real pleased with the event. It was just a fun and uplifting day.” “We had a wonderful response to the book signing,” Daugherty says. “Ronnie is very well-loved in the community and a pillar of not only our community here in Tarboro, but also the historical area that he helped to rejuvenate back in Raleigh.” “When I spoke at the reception, I de-


scribed Ronnie as a pioneer for others. That’s what he is. He told me it does his heart good to be able to watch couples be couples today, when he had to hide every- thing when he was growing up.”


FACTS FROM ‘NOT ANOTHER SECOND’


• 21 percent of older LGBT+ adults have acted as a caregiver to friends, compared to 6 percent of their heterosexual counterparts.


• 34 percent of LGBT+ older adults fear having to re-closet themselves when seeking senior housing.


• 41 percent of LGBT+ older adults report having a disability, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual older adults.


• 48 percent of all LGBT+ couples experience adverse treatment when seeking senior housing.


• Half of the LGBT+ population lives in states with no laws prohibiting housing discrimination.


• Nearly 60 percent of LGBT+ older adults report feeling a lack of companionship; more than 50 percent reported feeling isolated from others.


• 66 percent of LGBT+ older adults have experienced victimization at least three times in their lives.


Source: SAGE and National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. For more facts, visit notanothersecond.com


SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021 ARGENTUM.ORG 51


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