How do we deal with issues of aging in the gay community? We take a candid look at the diversity of our generations in: Facing a New Age
– A short film by Austen Hoogen.
The first ever national poll to measure the concerns of older gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender Americans, found a striking number of those surveyed …
Now 10 years old, the LGBT senior movement is young and vibrant. With years of grassroots and professional experience within its ranks, and some of the nation’s largest gay rights organizations backing it up, it is about to burst into full bloom.
In 1999, NCLR was the first LGBT legal organization to launch a permanent Elder Law Project as the first wave of baby boomers became senior citizens. The Elder Law Project advocates for policies and legislation to protect the medical and financial rights of LGBT elders, and educates the professionals who are charged with assisting them.
Gay and Lesbian LGBT Seniors
The plight of many gay seniors is highlighted by the Chicago Tribune‘s profile of 85-year-old Victor Engandela, whose rich, challenging life journey has brought him to a seniors care facility in Evanston, Illinois, where he has been forced back into the closet:
“‘I always said when I retired, when it was no longer dangerous, I was going to come out.’ And that’s what he did, retiring in the 1970s and telling everyone he knew, including members of the YMCA men’s club where he was president, that he was gay. It felt good to finally be fully open, and he savored those years. But now Engandela feels as closeted as he’s ever been. He often sits alone in the dining room, and has little to do with the various groups and clubs at his long-term care facility. He has a friend who comes by twice a week. On Saturdays they sit in his room and listen to opera on the radio. Engandela has been to the seniors program at the Center on Halsted a couple of times, but it’s hard for him to arrange transportation. Once, another man from the nursing home took him, but when the man realized it was a gay organization he stormed off to the Center’s lobby, refusing to dine with Engandela and the other seniors. ‘At this point in my life, I can’t believe I have to feel this way,’ Engandela said. ‘I have a lot of memories I’d like to share, a lot I’d like to talk about. But I feel like I can’t, and I shudder when I think I have to spend the remaining years of my life in this place.'”
Engandela’s story is why groups like S.A.G.E. are so important.
The Tribune also profiles 61-year-old Marvin Levin and the city’s Center on Halsted and its seniors program.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Seniors Services Department was created to enrich the lives of LGBT people 50 years and older through educational, social and cultural events and activities.
Because so many LGBT seniors remain in the closet, they often feel isolated and lonely. The Seniors Services Department provides a safe and nurturing environment for this overlooked group.
Offering nearly 50 events/ activities each month– all of them free or low-cost–the Seniors Services Department helps those who have little connection to their family find a community.
- Birds of a Feather, Santa Fe, NM
- Carefree Cove, Zionville, NC
- Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, Hollywood, CA
- RainbowVision, Santa Fe, NM
- Rainbow Vista, Greshem, Oregon