Archives for posts with tag: queer seniors

Though he insisted that the care home he chose was “gay friendly at least”, Bernard Mays (pictured right) still couldn’t find somewhere with a visible LGBTQ community even in the Bay Area near San Francisco. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he could no longer remain in his own home.

His story is well-told by Bay Area Reporter journalist Matthew S. Bajko, who’s been writing a series of articles about the challenges facing an ageing queer community. And those tough choices about how to manage dependency in old age are something we really need to talk about more. Bernard found somewhere which could cope with his physical decline, but which thus far risks making him feel isolated or forces him to join in with a community which he doesn’t feel part of and which he can’t guarantee will be supportive or accepting.

“One of the biggest adjustments for Mayes has been being assigned seating for meal times and sharing a table with the same people for three months at a time.”




Brief notes on some media stories from the last week:-

“If you think about the folks who supported a whole society that was extremely discriminatory, that is the population that is in the nursing homes now”

  • A good report from the BBC about the growing need for housing and care alternatives for the ageing LGBTQ community; the video clip is worth watching. Old age brings enough threats of loss of autonomy, personal dignity and dependence without the additional burden of being forced to deny your identity or face homophobic or transphobic attitudes from those delivering personal care.

“I would predict that every trans person who has ever come out has been asked a variation on the question, “But what was your old name?” Or the ruder version, “But what’s your real name?” Or the slightly bizarre, “But what was your birth name?” I’d like to know how many of us are born with names.”

  • Fred McConnell’s article for The Guardian about the intrusive questions openly trans people are endlessly asked reminded me of my early days as an out gay man and activist, when I was constantly asked about what I did in bed with other men (and more creepily, about lesbians and what they did).

“[The wedding] is all going to hang around an idea: a historic moment in time. While this is a deeply personal thing … we’re doing it publicly, partly to display to the whole world that our country recognises and respects our relationship. Marriage is not the apotheosis of gay rights [but] it’s a steady step in the right direction”

  • One of the gay and lesbian couples planning to marry next weekend when the new law comes into force in the UK, talking to The Independent. There’s a popular misconception that once same-sex marriage is in place, LGBTQ rights are all fine and dandy, and it’s good to see that not all those quoted are falling into the trap of believing it.

“People who cash in their pensions in order to save or invest the money risk losing their right to free social care if they fall ill or become too frail to look after themselves, leading charities have warned.”

  • The economic crisis of the past few years has made financing adequate pensions and social care provision an even more difficult issue in many countries. This week the spotlight was on the UK, where many at first welcomed news to give people more rights over how to manage their pension savings. The downside is that they’ll be at the mercy of a financial services industry which has a dubious track record, and there’s a real risk that some will find themselves making bad decisions; it’s a relief to see some of the potential worries about this liberalisation being recognised. The LGBTQ community has a larger proportion of people living alone or without extended family support, so there are particular risks for us.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome…

“Assisted living is the rock we don’t want to look under,” said Catherine Hawes, a professor at Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center who conducted a national study of the system.

If you didn’t see this edition of Frontline on PBS the when it aired this summer, it’s worth watching on their web site.

Though the LGBTQ community isn’t the focus, just step back and think about the implications for us: the individuals whose stories are told all had families who cared deeply about them, and who apparently did their best to look after their interests.  Many LGBTQ seniors don’t have this kind of support network, and lack active advocates on their behalf.

So, what can be done to ensure that our wellbeing is assured when we need to move to residential care?

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