A Generation of Ages
Last Tuesday, Ben discussed the obstacles gayby boomers experience in the realms of financial protection and partnerships. As I read his blog, I couldn’t help but recall the numerous senior communities specifically geared toward the LGBT audience, including the Advocate’s recent issue highlighting Mexico as a key retirement destination or Olivia’s specific marketing to lesbian seniors. According to a report entitled, Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Gay and Lesbian Boomers, LGBT boomers are afraid they won’t be able to take care of themselves (74%), question if they will be financially stable and prepared to throughout their retirement, and fearful of the discrimination they will face as they age. The list is endless — social security, taxes, healthcare, and estate planning but the solutions are slowly rising to the surface as we continue this ongoing dialogue.
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, there is a total of 3 million LGBT senior citizens in the U.S., and this number is estimated to increase to 4 million by 2030. Today, as more and more pivotal and powerful icons of the gay and lesbian movement mature, there are concerns regarding healthcare, social services, and a maintained and inclusive community specifically impacting the LGBT population. The Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign estimates that more than 23 percent of same sex couples include partner a partner who is 55 or older, and 12 percent include one who is 65 or older.
Recognizing this need for education and communication surrounding LGBT, the 2008 Aging in America Conference, sponsored by the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging, will host workshops geared toward LGBT concerns for such boomers. The conferences takes place March 26-30 in Washington D.C.
Support from such national organizations and associations, in additional to education resources and sessions to create advocates and ambassadors for the LGBT senior community is essential. Additionally, it’s important to arm LGBT boomers and their allies with the tools to be advocates. These issues of health, finances, and culturally inclusive communities are key to ensuring our LGBT community, as a whole, maintains a commitment to stability and growth spanning from youth through seniors.
Utilizing LGBT organizations to provide a resource for LGBT seniors is crucial to fostering a supportive community. These seniors have been pivotal to the growth of the LGBT community, granting us millennials with the opportunities to be out and open about who we are. Our generation of millienials receives such negative perceptions of our disconnect to the world, yet high expectations for our self-fulfilling aspirations. Coming from a culture of embraced tradition and a heavy emphasis on respect for elders, it’s difficult for me to not raise the issue of LGBT seniors. So often, I take advantage of the privileges I currently have because of the fight that these individuals worked so diligently to give me — give us. As they mature, we must remember that they are at a higher risk of marginalization and exclusion, in addition to financial and legal hardships. Perhaps it’s time for us to return the favor. Last week, Ben posed the question, “Who will lead that conversation?” For many of us, our reply is “It’s not our problem,” but it is … it’s our community’s problem. Regardless of age or generation gaps, this is a problem that we can collectively work to resolve.