How Gay Elders Can Help Change The World
On Monday I attended a fantastic session of the DC Senior Resource Group (DCSRG).DCSRG is a monthly networking and educational meeting for professionals serving elders and their families that is coordinated by Elder Law Attorney Robert Bullock and other volunteers.
I was pleased to see that this topic packed the house and broke all previous attendance records for DCSRG. The panel presentation The Senior Gay and Lesbian: Don’t Ask, Please Tell was moderated and organized by Sandy Douglass, CEO/Administrator of the Methodist Home, President of the DC Health Care Association and Vice-Chair of SAGE Metro DC~ Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders. Panel members included Megan Wallace, Esquire and Daniel Wilson, LICSW of the LGBT Counseling Center.
The information that panel members shared was fascinating and truly engaged the entire audience in a lively and thought provoking discussion. It reinforced much of what I learned in my project that linked a Gay Elder living in a retirement community with University of Pennsylvania LGBT student leaders, click here for those posts.
Sandy Douglass and I used this event as an opportunity to continue the discussion with a screening of the documentary film GenSilent on Feb. 24 at the Methodist Home of DC and on March 8 at The Foundtains of Washington House in Alexandria, VA. We are working on a MD screening and discussion. Please view the trailer below
How Can Gay Elders Help Change The World?
As I soaked in the presentation and discussion I realized that much of it centered around how Gay Elders are discriminated against, misunderstood and may not live to their potential due to perceptions and stigmas. Many times this discrimination is being inflicted by other Elders! There is too much age discrimination and ageism in our culture already – wouldn’t you think your own cohort should be the last person engaging in this behavior?
I look at this issue like universal design – if we design environments that can accommodate the most disabled in our society we have designed environments that are better for everyone. If we can embrace a mindset and settings that are accepting and accommodating to Gay Elders we will create a culture that is better for all of us too! I might be oversimplifying this – but I feel it takes a lot less energy to be accepting than discriminating.
Is the solution is building more communities specifically for Gay Elders like the Rainbow Vision Properties or others? While I think these options will be appealing to many, I sincerely hope that we move towards more diverse and inclusive communities that celebrate elders and minimize segregation in any way (including age).