Sep 6
Greetings Sisters and Brothers of the Heart!
As we prepare for the closing of another summer season, I am cherishing a smile presently resting in my spirit. It is a smile resulting from the communion experienced during this year’s “Annual Senior Invasion of Fire Island” with elder members of the LGBTQ community. The invasion is held each August. Attendees are representative of the greater New York City metropolitan area and presents a fitting mosaic of the rainbow that we so proudly claim.  Yet, too often the LGBTQ community is portrayed as a young community, rendering older LGBTQ people “invisible”. Despite this, however, the richness of the experience is in the remembrance that we are “never too old” to be proud of who we are.
LGBTQ older adults have always been a part of every community but for many and for sundry reasons, the aging process is fraught with unpleasantness. A disproportionately high number live alone; are less likely to be partnered or married; have fewer children or other cross-generational ties to help them. Far too many feel that they lack companionship; feel isolated from others or feel left out; and are at high risk of social isolation and financial insecurity. Others though, rely heavily on peers for support but then even the peers face their own aging challenges. The bright light in all of this of course is that the present generation of LGBTQ older adults possess a resiliency born out of a legacy of activism and are most definitely characteristic of the words from Philippians 3: 15-16
     “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.
     And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear
     to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
Lest we forget, this group of LGBTQ seniors came of age amidst the sweeping social changes of the 1960s and 1970. They are also the ones who stood up to address issues significant to the LGBTQ community such as: coming out; HIV-AIDS; marriage equality; and civil rights. Consequently, as they grow into old age, there are expectations quite different from those generations of LGBTQ older adults preceding them who lived in an era when discretion was key to survival. Thus one of the next issues for the LGBTQ community has to be aging.
We in the LGBTQ community share an interconnectedness and interdependence that mandates that the community-at-large make every effort in becoming aware of LGBTQ seniors and to make it our job to raise awareness so that elder needs become more visible. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, across the United States there are as many as 3 million LGBTQ citizens aged 65 and over, and that number is expected to climb. As we continue collaborative efforts in the work of creating safe and supportive housing and schools for LGBT youth; securing nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans; we cannot disregard advocacy efforts to ensure barrier free and non-discriminatory access of health and human services for LGBTQ older adults. Socialization along with opportunities to “Age with Pride” leads to better overall wellness for elder LGBTQ adults. After all, we are “never too old” to be proud of who we are.
Yours in love and commitment…. Reverend Gale Jones, Executive Pastor

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