Long Life to Exit (at 300)


Gavin Hayward | Exit | November 8, 2015

As many will know, when a relative dies, the practise amongst Jewish people is to wish the bereaved, “Long Life.” I’ve often wondered about this. Long life, per se, is not necessarily a blessing. Those of us who’ve watched relatives and friends dwindle away to nothing, understand how humiliating a long life can be if it is not accompanied by physical and mental well-being. To wish someone “long life” without adding a few ancillary wishes seems potentially hazardous.

But longevity is often praised. Old age is associated with “wisdom,” an association which many of us who have observed the elderly might wish to challenge. Longstanding relationships are praised, anniversaries are celebrated. The superficial suggestion that because a relationship has lasted, it has been, on the whole, a success, is often belied by closer inspection and more intimate knowledge.231p1

But longevity, personal and relational, remains praised. The elderly are to be respected. Their views consulted. Their interests privileged. Perhaps this is just a throwback to times when life expectancy was a great deal less than it is now. Perhaps respect for the elderly also suggests an unspoken understanding that life is, after all, “a vale of tears,” and those who have survived long have endured much.

This edition is EXIT’s 300th. If bodily survival is tough, for a monthly LGBTIQ newspaper to survive in South Africa for 300 editions is close to miraculous. In earlier times, those before many of the born frees could read, the very existence of such a newspaper was an affront to a Christian Nationalist government and the exclusive “morality” it fostered. Circulation was difficult, given that so many potential readers were closeted. Actually purchasing a copy of EXIT from the CNA was akin to “coming out.”

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