As I get older I find myself looking back on my life and I begin to wonder, what if? Or maybe I should have? Regardless it’s not easy to reflect on my life and not have some regrets. However, I’ve learned to always move forward, learn from my past. As the baby boomers move to midlife or “golden years” we as a culture tend to forget about the sacrifices they made so we could enjoy the very freedoms we have now. That because of them we are able to hold hands in public, travel as a couple, live together, and even marry.
How many times have we’ve been out and look at someone who is older and make rude comments, say they’re just to old, I would never be with someone that old? Anyone in the LGBT community who say’s they’ve never behaved this way, I would have to call bull shit.
In a recent study conducted by The Gill Foundation for SAGE a national organization that advocates for seniors in the LGBT community indicated that LGBT elders more often live alone, are childless, have smaller social networks, and have financial concerns. Another major concern is the fact that LGBT elders are being forced back into the “closet” as they enter long-term care facilities, mostly out of fear of being mistreated; and their fears are based in reality. Another study by The Williams Institute found that many LGBT elders face a wide range of treatment in long-term senior housing; such as pricing, requirements, and availability. It is a very sad fact that those of the Stonewall generation are being forced to go back into the “closet”, something they have fought. It is not only unacceptable, but a wakeup call for everyone in the LGBT community and those who support our community.
I came across an organization while at New Orleans Pride a few years ago, and was impressed that there was an organization dedicated to the senior members of the LGBT community. NOAGE strives to bring awareness and understanding to the community; by providing social and educational events, legal services, and health education to professional providers.
“TWe are here to provide needed services across the generations; regardless of their sexual ordination”. Jim Meadows, Executive Director, NOAGE
NOAGE’s goal is to provide a safe environment for the elderly members of the LGBT community to socialize and access needed services. It’s important to know that they strive to reach out to the entire community as a whole. Established 5 years ago, NOAGE has quickly grown into a major resource for the community.
I believe it’s important to honor and respect the senior members of the LGBT community, to listen to their stories and cherish the past. As I stated before it’s a fact that some within the community tend to degrade and pass over them without giving a thought to what they had to endure so that we could live as we do now. Just remember that once their gone, their perspective of the past go’s with them and are forever lost. So, I challenge you to put your preconceived notions behind you and let them know they are still valued.
NOAGE which is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit relies on the public's support and donations go directly to the services they provide. If you would like to join NOAGE there is a $25.00 membership, become a volunteer, or for event information contact NOAGE, call (504) 517-2345, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
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