Gay seniors settle into a niche
The couple tried retiring in Tampa but never felt comfortable there. They considered Sun City Center, Fla., until they heard about gay men who had moved in and promptly fled back into the closet. “We didn’t want to go that route, not at this point in our life,” Norris says.
RainbowVision, the nation’s first retirement village aimed at gay men and lesbians, seemed a perfect fit. A visit to arts-happy Santa Fe, a high-desert cultural oasis with a gay-friendly reputation, sealed the deal. They put their Tampa place and Upper West Side co-op on the market.
Moving to a new $361,000, three-bedroom condo put Norris, 67, and Sirota, 79, on the leading edge of an emerging niche in the USA’s booming retirement market. Communities tailored to gay seniors have been a dream, gay advocates say, ever since the gay-rights movement was born after the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York’s Greenwich Village, a clash of police and drag queens after a raid on a gay bar.
But only recently have projects gotten off the ground: all-inclusive places like RainbowVision; conventional subdivisions that market homes or lots to gays; non-profit urban ventures that include affordable housing; and hybrids of all three.
A few have acquired land and are moving forward, says the American Society on Aging, including subdivisions in Pecos, N.M., and Zionville, N.C., urban condos and apartments in Boston and Los Angeles, and a lodge with cottages, town houses and nursing units in Santa Rosa, Calif.