‘I had to pretend I was something I wasn’t’
“I had to separate myself. I had to pretend I was someone I wasn’t (Wheeler, 2016, para. 2).” Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow heard those words from a friend who was dying of cancer, who was discussing her fear of talking openly about her sexuality with her hospice worker.
That isn’t an isolated incident. In a study from the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, 22% of those surveyed felt that they could be open about their sexual identities with health care staff. Almost 90% predicted that staff members would discriminate based on their sexual or gender identities, and 43% reported instances of mistreatment (Wheeler, 2016, para. 6).
That reality has prompted Rabbi Paasche-Orlow to create a series of programs to help long-term care residents and staff members learn to coexist.
Read this story for more on Rabbi Paasche-Orlow’s methods and the issues facing LGBTQ+ adults in care facilities.
Wheeler, D. (2016, August 25). LGBT seniors are being pushed back into the closet. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/lgbt-seniors/497324