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Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2007

Boomers worry about homophobia in retirement

April 7, 2007

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Louis Hughes, 63, is part of the growing number of aging baby boomers who are gay and concerned about the discrimination and homophobia they may face in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Louis Hughes, 63, is part of the growing number of aging baby boomers who are gay and concerned about the discrimination and homophobia they may face in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

During the past three decades, Louis Hughes has demonstrated for gay rights in Annapolis, Md., and Washington, helped set up community and medical services for gays and lesbians and received awards for his efforts to prevent suicide in sexual-minority youths.

Although Hughes is proud of his history as an activist, he worries how his sexual identity may affect his old age. If he must one day enter a nursing home, for instance, the retired Baltimorean worries that being openly gay could put him in jeopardy when he's too weak to protest.

How would staff react when his same-sex friends visit? Would there be a payback if they were "too over the top"?

"What if I have a homophobic roommate and I ask to be moved? How would that be perceived?" says Hughes, 63.

"I already pretend that I'm a relative of a friend I'm taking for cancer treatments. But if I'm sick in a nursing home, what if I don't feel up to that battle of working the system? Instead, I may think, 'Gee, this person is taking good care of me, I better watch what I say and what I do. I think I'd better hide my award plaques from working with gay pride.'"

This is a concern shared by many baby boomers who fought for the right to be openly gay in mainstream America. They now face a new challenge: remaining openly gay in old age.

The post-World War II generation was the first to be so honest about its sexual identity, and to take strength and power from it. Now, gay activists are determined to protect the rights, dignity and quality of life for their elders.

Estimates of the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women in the United States, often referred to as "LGBTs," suggest that 1 million to 3 million are aged 65 and older. Another 2 million to 6 million are baby boomers.

In a 2006 study of gay and lesbian boomers by Metlife Mature Market Institute, more than a quarter of those surveyed were concerned about discrimination as they age.

Baltimore lawyer Lynda Dee, 54, who specializes in the legal issues of gay and lesbian people, has helped clients take measures to protect their right to be informed during a crisis.

"I recently had a couple where one woman was very sick and the other one adopted her, to be sure that she would be the person the doctors go to. You can have all the powers of attorney and so forth in place, but the reality is that some doctors don't want to get involved in family arguments and still may not call you."

Rather than risk facing such situations, some gays and lesbians are relocating to upscale LGBT retirement communities.

But few can afford to live in such communities. However, the gay community offers social networking and support through such groups as Prime Timers and Senior Pride in Baltimore.

Prime Timers is a group for gay men over 40. During the past three years, the Baltimore chapter has grown from six to 40 members who gather to hear lectures, go to movies, museums and plays and enjoy potlucks.

Comments

OZ 7 years ago

Posted by SettingTheRecordStraight (anonymous) on April 7, 2007 at 1:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm disappointed the Journal World would run a story with the non-scientific, gay PR catch phrase "homophobic." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

First of all it's a SINGLE WORD, NOT a Phrase.

Secondly, you protest TOO MUCH.

And like Homophobia, it is linked to Latent Homosexuality, and a major component of Latent Homosexuality is Denial and the subsequent "Protest" or "Protesting TOO MUCH"

Just like you're doing now, Princess.

Let's hear it or the Land of the SORT OF FREE, and with Liberty and Justice for SOME.

HAPPY ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE and........

Priase CHEESES ! ! !

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smitty 7 years ago

By the time I got to retirement I really didn't give a flying flip one way or the other about the back biting at the apartment complex over sexuality. If you can get it on I applaud you, no matter how it happens consensually.

What makes it nice in Lawrence is the gay rights written into the city ordiances. Go ahead make my day and I'll be on them like gravey on a bisquit.

Oh yeah, you are a homophobe politically speaking, that is.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

I'm disappointed the Journal World would run a story with the non-scientific, gay PR catch phrase "homophobic."

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