the elderly in our community

Tuesday’s article in the New York Times documenting the
plight of the elderly LGBT community
opened my eyes to a side of
the movement that I hadn’t thought about before.

When studying geriatric policy in college, we had a guest lecturer
who described a rather bleak picture of what awaited us in our
supposed golden years, given the current economic and political
circumstances. With social security going bankrupt and Medicare
costs increasing, this expert told us that the best shot we have at
ensuring that we’re taken care of in our old age – save having
the financial capacity to ensure optimum care for ourselves – is
to have children and hope they will take care of us, or at least
help pay for our care. (This is yet another way that discriminatory
parenting laws adversely affect our community.)

I’ve long been ashamed of the way that we as a society deal with
our elderly population. We don’t have an adequate health care
system in place to take care of their mounting medical problems;
there are not stringent enough protections against predatory
financial ventures aimed at them; and there are all sorts of horror
stories involving sub-standard care at nursing home facilities.

On top of all of this, the elderly LGBTQ population is suffering
emotionally, mentally and physically because of their sexual
orientation or gender identity. In addition to the problems of
navigating a system of health care proxies and power of attorney
forms to be able to care for a partner, the elderly LGBTQ
population must also deal with inadequately trained staffs and
homophobic peers.

Some groups are beginning to make headway in this arena, but it’s
happening primarily in major cities and there’s a lot of work to
be done. In the same way that one’s children are said to help
ensure their parents’ well being in old age, we, as members of
the LGBTQ and ally community, must make strides to take care of our