December 22, 2005

Support for Older LGBT People

It has occurred to me that I need to worry about structures that may or may not be in place to support older lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons as I pack my bags for South Florida. I suspect that there are organizations that support LGBT people in general, but what specifically is being done to support senior LGBT people? So, I’ve spent some time looking for and reading the literature in scholarly magazines (medical, psychological, and health journals) at the library at Franklin and Marshall College, a world-class facility I might add. A major concern among health practitioners concerning the elderly LGB population is the fact that we were raised in an era when our sexual orientation was totally stigmatized.

Being a member of a minority group(s) that is not recognized as a legitimate minority deserving equal constitutional protection (on the federal level and by most states) leads to marginalization, discrimination and violence that directly impact on physical and mental health (DiPlacido, 1998). Additionally, this unrecognized minority group status communicates to LGB individuals that they do not have a “goodness of fit” with their environment, and it underscores the point that they are oppressed and disempowered, which threatens their mental health and social well-being.

While I seem to have adjusted quite well to such marginalization, at least during my old age, if not so well during my youth and early to middle adult years, I am bound to have health issues during the course of the next several years. After all, I am 86 years old. So, as part of the anticipated exploratory trip to Southeast Florida, I am looking on line for LGBT support groups. I’ve identified one particularly successful group in West Palm Beach named Compass. It is the largest organization in Southeast Florida. However, though I found support within the organization for those with HIV- AIDS, I could find no organization or group within compass listed that is designed to support senior LGBT people other than those with HIV-AIDS. I have a feeling that this might be the case almost anywhere in the United States, though I would have expected such a large organization to do a better job.

Ah well. I guess I’m just being a fussy old gay fart.

Perhaps I should start my own support group!

I have sent an e-mail to Compass in West Palm Beach because I intend to do volunteer work if I settle in that area.

*Hinchcliffe, Rob. Londonist. Gothamist, May 24, 2005. Viewed Thursday, December 22, 2005.

*Grossman, Arnold. Physical and Mental Health of Older Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults. Department of Applied Psychology, The Steinhardt School of Education,
New York University (2005).

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