Checking in with LGBTQ Elders
Pride Month is celebrated every June, to honor the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a key turning point in the Gay Liberation movement.
According to Pew Research, positive attitudes toward LGBTQ people are at the highest level in history and increasing. Also increasing is the number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ. But among this population, only 9% are people age 65 and older.
There are reasons why the population of LGBTQ elders is smaller than other generations. They have faced a lifetime of discrimination, coming of age in a time when homosexuality was considered criminal or a symptom of mental illness. Some were abandoned by unsupportive family members, and thousands were lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The older LGBTQ community is now experiencing the privileges and challenges of old age. Factors such as health, wealth, and social support systems play a significant role in their quality of life as they age. Their experiences can also be shaped by their role in the LGBTQ movement and how society perceives them because of it.
Ways to Celebrate the Pioneers of the Pride Movement
The aging LGBTQ population faces healthcare disparities, loneliness, discrimination in housing, and legal challenges. So this Pride month, here are some ways we can appreciate and support the elders of the Pride movement.
Advocate for inclusive policies: Advocate for policies that protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in healthcare, housing, and other critical sectors. Support legislation that recognizes and protects their rights, such as laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Improve healthcare: Encourage and support the development of healthcare services that are culturally competent and sensitive to the needs of aging LGBTQ individuals. This includes training for healthcare professionals on the specific health concerns of this population.
Create safe and inclusive housing: Advocate for the development of affordable, LGBTQ-friendly housing. This can include retirement communities or housing facilities that are specifically designed to be inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ seniors.
Provide opportunities for social connection: Older adults, and particularly those in the LGBTQ community, can face social isolation. Creating programs and spaces where they can connect with others can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.
Respect and learn from their experiences: Older LGBTQ individuals have lived through significant changes in the recognition and acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. Respecting their experiences and learning from their wisdom can provide valuable insights for current and future generations.
It’s worth noting that several organizations work to address these issues and support aging LGBTQ individuals and activists. Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is one of these organizations in the United States that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ older adults and their caregivers. It’s crucial to continue promoting acceptance, conducting research, and providing services that consider the unique needs and experiences of older LGBTQ individuals.