Anjali Nirmalan
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"If an 85-year-old gay man is giving you the eye, it's probably glaucoma."

June 6, 2010 @ 4:39 AM | Permalink

One afternoon in Camden, I found myself at a 'tea dance' for elderly LGBT Londoners. There I sliced apricot cake, learned Scottish highland line dancing from the Gay Gordons, and was enlightened as to the hey-days of "cottaging."

As we popped pink balloons at the end of the event, an organizer thanked me for volunteering.  I told her it was no problem, and "actually, this is the most fun I've had in a long time!"

"But you're young and in uni - this should certainly not be the most fun you're having."

"Perhaps, but where else can I learn Scottish line dancing while my 85-year-old partner maybe gives me the eye?"

"Darling, if an 85-year-old gay man is giving you the eye, it's probably glaucoma."  

This is why I volunteer.

It has absolutely given me some of my most memorable - and unusual - experiences in London.

At the British Museum in October, I volunteered to be made-up in an elaborate neon green skeleton costume and perform in the Day of the Dead parade for 5000 spectators.  The other volunteers were all from RADA or of Mexican descent, so I learned a great deal from them about "finding the soul of death within."


To volunteer, there are many websites you can find.  One I would recommend is this page updated by the UCL Volunteering Society.  If you are not a UCL student, you will not be able to e-mail the Society for info on a specific volunteering opportunity, but you could google the listed organization needing volunteers and contact them directly.  One suggestion is Wilton's Hall, a fabulous but crumbling music hall that requires volunteer ushers for all of their shows – which you then get to see for free!  Check out my theatre list for more on Wilton's.



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