Getting old is hard. Whether it’s waging war against wrinkles and gray hair or fighting more serious battles related to health and independence, the struggle is real. And the challenges are particularly pronounced for older generations who identify as LGBTQ+.
DeeWho is Dee?
Hi! I’m here to help you explore the issues impacting older LGBTQ+ adults. This is a population that has faced discrimination throughout their lives, which has made the process of getting older different, too. In this section, we explore the unique challenges and opportunities that come with aging while LGBTQ+. Let’s get started.
Getting old — and then some
Aging impacts members of the LGBTQ+ community in the same ways it impacts their straight counterparts. But for a variety of complex reasons, there are some issues that plague this population in greater numbers.
The impact of life experiences
Tina and Jackie were born in the same year and went to the same college. But one is straight and the other is gay. And that changed everything.
Getting old isn't easy. But it can be particularly challenging for those who identify as LGBTQ+, and the reasons are complex — and interconnected.
A financial disadvantage
It’s hard to save for retirement if you’re barely making ends meet — or straight up poor. This 2019 study breaks down poverty levels for LGBT adults.
The differences between L, G, B, T & Q
Older adults who identify as LGBTQ+ are often treated as a whole. But there are unique differences that impact each group differently as they age.
A love story
While there are differences in the aging experience of LGBTQ+ and straight adults, much is the same. Case in point: This love story about John and Bill.
Back in the day
We tend to look back at the past with nostalgia: “It was a better, simpler time.” For the LGBTQ+ community, however, it was a time of profound discrimination, which set the stage for a lifetime of struggle — and resilience.
A different time to be LGBTQ+
Just a few decades ago, being gay or transgender was considered a mental illness. For some older LGBTQ+ adults, that discrimination has had lasting impact — in a variety of ways.
Documenting a silent generation
Experts in the film call it an epidemic: Older LGBTQ+ adults so afraid of discrimination by caregivers or bullying by other seniors that many simply go back into the closet.
Discrimination in more ways than one
Imani Woody, PhD, is African-American, in her 60s and a lesbian who says aging is very different for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are also people of color.
The path of greatest resilience
The upshot of experiencing a lifetime of discrimination is that it can also produce a deep well of resilience. And while some have turned adversity into opportunity, others veer toward activism.
The joys, traumas and fears of a long transgender life
In 2018, a photographer and a professor came together to document the lives of older transgender people. The result is a moving visual record of a community that is often overlooked.
All in the family
Families matter, no matter where you sit on the spectrum of sexual identity. As we age, families matter even more. For older LGBTQ+ populations, “family” can mean a lot of things and serve as a source of strength — or sadness.
Families of choice
"Families of choice" can be a vital source of support for older LGBTQ+ adults. But they also pose unique challenges when it comes to navigating legalities and care later in the life.
The first one to call me ‘Uncle John’
John Hilton reflects on the family he gained when he found Bill, his partner of 54 years — the family that stayed with him even after Bill passed away.
Home sweet home
The loss of independence that can come with age leaves older LGBTQ+ adults with the difficult task of finding a place to call home — one where they can feel comfortable living life out of the closet.
‘I had to pretend I was something I wasn’t’
This rabbi didn't think older LGBTQ+ adults should live in fear of coming out to health care workers. Now she's teaching long-term care residents and staff members to co-exist.
Life in long-term care facilities
This report looks at the lives of older LGBT adults living in long-term care facilities to understand the issues they face, from fear of being out to outright violence
When a fear becomes reality
This is the story of what happened when Marsha Wetzel moved into a senior living facility after her partner of 30 years died: "I don't feel safe in my own home."
Care facilities, made custom
Some cities are standing at the cutting edge when it comes to creating facilities designed to serve older LGBTQ+ adults — like this one, in Chicago.
Life in ‘homo-central’
A resident in a senior housing facility built with LGBTQ+ adults foremost in mind recounts what happened when he moved in — and realized not everyone knew they were moving to an LGBTQ-friendly space.
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Citations & Sources
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