Several times a week, at restaurants and in private homes throughout Hampton Roads, members of the Tidewater Chapter of Prime Timers Worldwide, gather to break bread, socialize and take care of one another. Prime Timers Worldwide is a social and educational organization for gay and bisexual men founded in 1987 in Boston by Woody Baldwin who foresaw the need for an organization to address the invisibility of older gay and bisexual men and the issues they face as they age.
Tidewater Prime Timers is a chapter of Prime Timers Worldwide and was founded in 1997 by Gary Copeland, Bob Lawrence and Russ Learn as a social and educational organization. It was created to fill the gap that caters exclusively to youth. Today, Tidewater Prime Timers is one of 80 chapters worldwide.
To celebrate their 20th Anniversary, they planned a banquet at MJ’s Tavern on September 16. Approximately 50 members attended the luncheon where they were presented with their charter. Keynote speaker Dr. Loren Olson, author of “Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, A Psychiatrist’s Own Story”, spoke of his experience coming out at age 40.
Photos courtesy Tidewater Prime Timer members Gary Copeland, Joe Davis and Fred Osgood.
Loneliness and isolation face many as they age and among the LGBTQ community, a situation which can be more acute if one has been rejected by blood relatives or lost a partner. That’s where the Prime Timers come in. The group has developed support systems, offer am active social outlet, look in on one another, and act as an extended family of choice.
Current Tidewater Prime Timers President Jimmy Luttrell said, “I would never have guessed the impact these guys would make on my life. They say you can’t choose your family, but many of us have proved that theory wrong. Through this club I’ve made tons of new family. Some are dad figures, some are mom figures, some are brothers, and yes, some are sisters. Those life long bonds give me peace as I grow older.”
The group is comprised of approximately 90 members and conducts regular meetings at the Heutte Center in Ghent. Aside from regular socializing, Tidewater Prime Timers enjoy day trips, educational seminars on a wide variety of topics and philanthropic work that supports the Food Bank of Southeast Virginia.
Currently, their charter does not allow female members. However, Tidewater Prime Timers are happy to share their experience with others interested in establishing a similar group for women in the area. Membership dues are $25 per year, $15 for active military and are open to all gay and bisexual men aged 21 and over.
For more information about Tidewater Prime Timers, visit their website at: http://www.primetimersww.com/tidewater