Enabling LGBT people to grow old together is not about creating a ghetto but about helping them to live later life openly, healthily and without fear…
When I used to live on the Northumberland coast, there was a game I played with visiting lesbian friends. On our walks and drives around the countryside, we’d identify houses we thought would make perfect lesbian retirement homes.
“No, that’s too exposed to the weather,” one would argue. “It’s in the middle of nowhere, you’d never get the staff,” said another. “The driveway’s too steep, we’d all break our hips in the winter,” a third objected.
But there was one thing we all agreed on. We really liked the idea of a community of lesbians growing old together more or less disgracefully. It may be a hangover from the ideas of communal living that gained a degree of traction in the 60s and 70s, often triggered by the political commitments of feminism and gay rights. But it’s one that retains a lot of appeal as we age.
Heaven knows, age comes with its indignities; this shouldn’t be one of them
Although attitudes towards sexuality have shifted radically in recent years, there are still significant levels of homophobia and transphobia around. Manchester city council, which is planning the country’s first local authority retirement community with a majority of LGBT residents, reports that elderly gay people fear hostility and discrimination from those charged with taking care of them. So they often hide their sexuality.
It seems profoundly wrong to me that after a lifetime of struggling to be accepted and to be open about who we are that we face being pushed back into the closet. Heaven knows, age comes with its indignities; this shouldn’t be one of them.
LGBT retirement homes are not about building a ghetto but rather being able to live life openly and without fear. To be surrounded by people with whom you have something in common. Often people move into such communities after a partner dies. How much healthier it must be to be able to express one’s grief freely, rather than hold back for fear of being judged.
Read the full article on the Guardian website…