Sharing the truth that love is love

Dario Musco is a man of logic and reality. Of dealing with facts backed up by data. So, on a hot February day, as he marched in the Midsumma Parade in his Uniting AgeWell rainbow T-shirt alongside other staff and felt the warmth and support from the onlookers as many reached out to say “thanks for supporting my elderly parents”, he felt a surge of emotion that defied any empirical explanation.

“It was the most amazing experience of my life,” the Care Organiser at the Loddon Mallee South Home Care Office says simply. “There I was, marching with my partner Ric and complete strangers were showering us with gratitude and affection. They didn’t just accept me. They celebrated me.”

This acceptance is huge for Dario, who is delighted to have been invited to join Uniting AgeWell’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and can’t wait to do his bit to make a difference to the organisation, which has inclusion as one of its five values underpinning everything it does.

“I’m an extrovert by nature but my sexuality has always been private,” explains the 61-year-old. “I’m not embarrassed about being gay but I have been concerned about whether it would affect the way people treated me. This magical moment in the parade, put all my fears to rest once and for all.”

A self-made man

Life has not always been as clear-cut for Dario as it is today. Wisdom, resilience and perseverance are often garnered from setbacks, hurt and pain – and he has had his fair share of all three.

Dario was raised in Melbourne and after completing school joined a bank before working for Ford Motor Company for over 20 years, starting off as a collections officer and progressing to become Customer Service Manager, Training & Development Manager and travelling in the Asia-Pacific region. “I learned on the job,” he says. “Everything I achieved, I did by myself.”

Married at the age of 29 they raised a family of three children. At the age of 49, Dario was one of so many made redundant. He used this opportunity to reassess his life and where he was going. And not just in his career.

“Marriage and children was something I yearned for. I can honestly say that I gave my marriage everything that I could – but in the end, the pull to be who I really am, became too great,” he explains of the difficult decision to leave their 20-year marriage resulting in estrangement from family.

From a work perspective, Dario did customer engagement contract work for a number of high profile companies, lived on his own, and while he did not hide his sexuality, he did not flaunt it either.

Love makes it all worthwhile

Eight years ago he met Ric. And that’s when he realised that all the hurt and pain he had gone through was worth it. Suddenly everything made sense – much like the Uniting Church hymn during Bendigo Pride Multi Faith Service: “My love colours outside the lines, exploring paths that few could ever find, opens doors to worlds outside the lines …”

The pair relocated to Perth for a while, and Dario was involved in face-to-face workshops in assisting older clients to transition to digital banking. “I realised I had a rapport with older people,” he says. “They have so much to offer.” Dario was appointed to manage a branch in remote Western Australia to further engage with diverse communities and offer assistance.

Twelve months ago, Dario and his partner relocated to Victoria because Ric’s elderly father needed support in Melbourne, and they are now based in Bendigo. Ric also works supporting the community in Allied Health, and they are busy renovating a property in Hepburn Springs.

Dario joined Uniting AgeWell in May last year at its Loddon Mallee Community Program working in CHSP, and says he uses his business acumen and his customer service skills in completing assessments and supporting people to access Government funded home care services. His kindness and humour go a long way in putting clients at ease.

Dario and Ric have been involved in Gay Pride Events and were active members of the inaugural Carnarvon Pride in Western Australia (“it was no mean feat to get this up and running in a conservative town in the middle of nowhere” he grins) and recently volunteered and assisted with Bendigo Pride. But no other event has had the same impact on Dario as the February Midsumma PRIDE March. Dario recently worked at the Uniting AgeWell stand at the Care and Ageing Well Expo in the Melbourne Convention Centre and asked whether he could wear his rainbow T-shirt. “The answer was an absolute yes!” he smiles.

“You get one life, and you need to be true to yourself,” Dario says. “And if sharing my story helps even one person out there find the courage to be who they are, then it is worth it.”