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My friend Brett in North Carolina brings us this look at LGBT aging in The South. I wonder if the caution of coming out revealed in his article stops the safety net of friends and family from developing.
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Watched together, these clips are a compelling snapshot of where the LGBT Aging movement is in the United States as of Spring, 2011. I am holding my breath as I see a growing interest in LGBT history. IMHO, knowing its history is how a culture stops being marginalized. And there is someone out there right now who needs an LGBT culture to give them hope.
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by: RobynFri May 06, 2011 at 15:00:00 PDT
On Thursday I went to a retirement party for the woman with whom I have been co-coordinating the Bloomfield College Gay/Non-Gay Alliance since I started working full-time here in 2001. It got me thinking about my own impending retirement and what will happen as I grow older.
Together with that, there was a news item about a film festival in Canada, called the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival in Calgary, which is showing, among many other films, Gen Silent, a film about elderly GLBT people who fear they will have to go back in the closet in their last years to be treated as they wish to be. Below is the trailer for this documentary:
GEN Silent Trailer 2.0 from Stu Maddux on Vimeo.
There is another documentary about the making of this movie…or at least part of it, which was shown last November on In the Life. It’s about 28 minutes in length, but it should wrench your heart.
If you, like me, need some resources to prepare yourself for your Golden Years, I have gathered them here. More
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EpiCenter, Latest Issue Thursday, May 5th, 2011
LGBT baby boomers, who will begin retiring in 2011, were 24 years old during the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, and are part of the estimated 1.5 million senior LGBT Americans many have called the first “out and proud” generation. Yet, too often they have been excluded from the social science research regarding aging and their unique issues and needs have not been adequately addressed by agencies and housing providers that serve seniors.
In the next five days, The San Diego LGBT Community Center will release a local needs assessment report regarding San Diego area LGBT seniors, with a focus on housing and housing-related services. The surveys, analysis and report were the research of Dr. Jim Zians and produced in part with the Ad Hoc Working Group on Housing for LGBT Seniors, a group of LGBT community members who have been working for several years in collaboration with The Center and a variety of other community organizations to better understand the needs of local seniors and, ultimately, begin to address them.
The report largely confirms most of the national and local findings that have preceded it. Among the characteristics and challenges outlined by San Diego seniors are four priority concerns:
1. Concerns regarding the lack of family, community and social support available to LGBT seniors
2. Concerns regarding the lack of access to culturally competent health care, mental health care and social services support available to LGBT seniors
3. Financial concerns
4. The lack of safe, LGBT-affirmative affordable housing options
According to the survey, LGBT seniors are more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to live alone. They also are significantly less likely to have children or siblings they can count on for support as they age. This is particularly troubling, given that the vast majority of care and assistance for aging Americans is typically provided by family. In addition, more than half of the respondents expressed high levels of concern about their health and health care, and many were not comfortable being “out” to their health care provider.
The survey shows 23 percent of LGBT seniors had incomes of less than $20,000 annually. According to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, San Diego seniors who have an income of $22,824 annually ($1,902 per month) live in poverty. Additionally, 49 percent reported having less than $5,000 in savings for retirement. LGBT seniors in San Diego also reported facing financial challenges that are exacerbated by discriminatory policies at all levels, such as inequities in the Social Security coverage due to a lack of marriage equality for LGBT couples.
In terms of housing-related concerns, LGBT senior San Diegans shared a desire with their non-LGBT senior counterparts to remain in their home as they age (79 percent). When asked, 90 percent of respondents indicated they would prefer LGBT-affirmative housing and 94 percent said they would prefer to live among other LGBT community members as they retire and/or age, with 79 percent reporting they feel safer living among LGBT community members.
The report and surveys are important tools to educate our community about the needs and concerns of our aging LGBT San Diegans; but now that we have a clearer idea of what our seniors need, what is most important is finding ways to begin to meet those needs. The full report contains a list of recommendations spanning from national advocacy initiatives to smaller steps that many of our local organizations can begin work on immediately. There is much to be done and we need to get started!
The executive summary and full report will be available online at TheCenterSD.org.
Posted by Karen Wasserman
Last week, several of my colleagues and I were part of the packed audience at the Coolidge Theatre for the screening of Gen Silent. Gen Silent, an independent film by Stu Maddux, was filmed in Greater Boston with the support of the LGBT Aging Project. It puts a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender older adults so afraid of discrimination in the long term/elder care world that many go back into the closet.
Older LGBT people lived at a time when being openly gay was not safe. Many of them fought for their rights and helped build the possibility for younger generations to live more openly. Unfortunately, many of them were estranged from their families of origin and didn’t have children of their own. They looked to friends for community and support. As their peer communities age, many are isolated and not comfortable reaching out to the established elder service providers for fear of encountering homophobia.
The project has created a curriculum to educate elder care providers about the LGBT community in hopes of creating better awareness of their existence, their needs, and their right for safe, compassionate, and respectful care at home and in nursing homes. Gen Silent has taken that mission and given us real life stories of current LGBT elders and the obstacles they encounter as they age and need care. What began as a small independent film has become both a wake up call and an important tool for educating and organizing in the world of elder care. It was moving and inspiring to feel part of a community gathered for that purpose. I highly recommend the film. Check the Gen Silent website for scheduled showings.
Karen Wasserman, LICSW, is the director of JF&CS Your Elder Experts. Karen has worked with elders and their families for the past 23 years. Karen started the geriatric care management program of JF&CS in 1999 and has managed its growth into one of the Boston area’s leading care management practices.