Monthly Archives: February 2011

RainbowVision Santa Fe

Looking for a wonderful vacation spot?  Consider visiting beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico and staying at an LGBT…retirement community!

RainbowVision Santa Fe doesn’t call itself that, with good reason.  “Your community for the second fifty years” seems more like a high-end spa, with its gourmet-chef’d Garbo’s restaurant, SilverStarlight Cabaret & Lounge, Billie Jean King Fitness Center and Spa, Truman Capote Library, Edward Scissorhands Salon, Spectrum newsletter, and concierge services.  All of its public rooms are named for famous LGBT people and usually feature marvelous portraits of these pioneers.  Its social activities run the gamut from more traditional aging fare like seminars on eating healthy to the very non-traditional and well-attended drag shows. 

RainbowVision isn’t even solely for retired people.  Working people in their 40s and 50s have moved into some of RainbowVision’s 146 condos, wanting to take advantage of its easy social life and many daily living amenities.  Visitors of any age are welcome, too: RainbowVision maintains a set of fully-stocked condos that can be rented out by the day or week.  Not LGBT?  Not a problem!  Joy Silver, RainbowVision’s dynamic President and CEO, told me a hefty number of residents aren’t LGBT.  Some are the parents of LGBT couples, who are drawn by the idea of having high-quality assisted living services for their mom or dad just steps away from where they dine, work out, and socialize.  But other heterosexuals move in simply because they love the feeling of living in the midst of a very connected and caring community.  That was one of the strongest goals in designing RainbowVision, Joy says, calling it a “living laboratory” for how to build not just a physical community, but a psychological one.

Speaking of community, if you visit RainbowVision, make sure you plan for plenty of sidewalk ogling in  Santa Fe; Joy told me that an estimated 21% of Santa Fe residents are LGBT, which must make it one of the queerest places on earth. 

Check it out:

RainbowVision’s website:

Facebook page:!/rainbowvisionsantafe

Joy Silver’s blog:


Family Matters: Trans People and SOFFA Relationships

In February 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released the largest-ever survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (available at  Nearly 6,500 responded to this wide-ranging questionnaire.  Here are some highlights relating to transgender and gender non-conforming people and their family members

You win some and you lose some

  • 70%  of children still speak to and spend time with their transgender/gender non-conforming parent
  • 61%  say their family relationships have slowly improved after coming out and/or transitioning
  • 57%  experienced some level of family rejection
  •  55% of intimate relationships survive the transgender person’s coming out and/or transition (or ended for a reason other than gender)
    • 55%  of those who transition lose their intimate partnership
    • 45%  say their family is as strong now as it was before they came out
    • 43%  maintained most of their family bonds
    • 40%  said one or more relatives “chose not to speak or spend time with me” due to their gender identity/expression

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“Ready to Serve?” — New Research

Eons ago – 1994, to be exact – a researcher named Robert Behney studied 24 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in 15 metropolitan areas.  For the past decade and a half, we’ve been quoting his findings, including these:   46% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) surveyed said that LGBT people would not be welcome at their senior centers if their sexual orientation were known. Also, 96% did not offer services specifically for gay and lesbian older adults and did not target their outreach to them; and only 17% provided training to staff on issues related to sexual orientation.  Has nothing changed in all that time?

A new study by researchers Kelly Abel Knochel, Catherine F. Croghan, Rajean P. Moone and Jane K. Quam has found that indeed they have.  Throwing their net much farther, the 2010 study, “Ready to Serve? The Aging Network and LGB and T Older Adults,” reached 320 AAAs in 45 states.  Now they found that more than 1/3 had offered or funded some type of LGBT training to staff.  The vast majority (75.6% for LGBs, 71.9% for Ts) thought LGBT elders would be welcomed at local aging programs.  However, only a few had received at least one request to help an LGB (31.3%) or T (19.1%) older adult in the past year, and LGBT-targeted services are still quite rare: 7.2% offered services targeted to transgender elders, and 7.8% offered services targeted to LGB elders.  Just over 12% had targeted outreach to the LGBT elder community.

Want to know more?  The whole study is available in several places on the web.  Here’s one:

Commenting on HUD Non-Discrimination Rules

One of the LGBT policy advances we’ve seen under the Obama Administration is a commitment to ensuring that federal programs under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Administration recently published proposed rules to implement these changes and is soliciting professional and public input until March 25, 2011.  These proposed rules — available at — specifically prohibit HUD programs (including FHA mortgage insurance programs and federally-supported housing programs for older adults) from asking about sexual orientation or gender identity.  The rules also give more expansive definitions of a “family” or “household” to ensure that LGBT families are included.  Two additional programs of note that are included under the new provisions are the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.  (Interestingly, the introduction to the rules cites, among other things, the large discrimination study just sponsored by the National Center on Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which FORGE has been summarizing here.)

John Johnson, full-time federal lobbyist for the LGBT aging community (employed by SAGE), suggests that comments include the following:

  • Brief introduction
  • Your credentials
  • How the rule or change will impact your agency and/or your constituents
  • Ask what change you would like to see
  • Say why it is important
  • Thank them for their time
  • Provide your contact information

HUD prefers that comments be submitted electronically; those with privacy concerns should note it appears these are available online to anyone who cares to search them.  Comments can also be submitted by mail.  For more information and for contact information if you have questions, see the website noted above.

LGBT Older Adults Rock Out

Need a quick pick-me-up?  Check out this YouTube video:

It’s clearly not produced by a professional, but this very fun clip shows a chorus of LGBT older adults rocking out to “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” by LCD Soundsystem.  Stay alert around the 6:00-minute mark for a wild beatbox solo. 

LCD Soundsystem, Franz Ferdinand, George Michael, Prince, Tracy Chapman…these aren’t necessarily the musical artists most people expect older adults to sing on stage, and that’s part of the magic of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Senior Services Department-sponsored Forever Young Chorale.  This high-energy group was designed to build intergenerational bridges by performing music that appeals to younger people.  And it works!  Debuting in June 2009 in front of a full house of 150, the 13 Forever Young Chorale members – all LGBT or allies, and all 50 and older – so wowed an enthusiastic intergenerational audience that they were invited to become the first community group to ever perform on the main stage of the L.A. Pride Festival.   There – as you can see for yourself in a series of YouTube videos – the Chorale thrilled the audience with very sexy, high-energy performances of songs they picked specifically to appeal to younger people.  The Chorale has since then been fielding multiple requests for encores, including one from a nightclub that booked them for a midnight performance!

Want more?  How about the Chorale performing Tracey Chapman:

Working While Trans: Fast New Facts

In the second of our series, here’s FORGE’s new fact sheet pulling together key employment-related statistics from the new NCTE/NGLTF study, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.”

Getting and staying on the job

  • Transgender and gender non-conforming respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general public
  • Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming
    • MTFs:  36%
    • FTMs:  19%
    • 47%  have experienced an adverse job outcome, “such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming”

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Fast New Facts about Transgender People and Health Care

Last week the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) issued a long-awaited and groundbreaking study — the largest ever — of transgender and gender non-conforming people and their experiences of discrimination, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (available at  The study is truly fascinating, providing “proof” of things many of us knew, but also providing a heretofore invisible mapping of the transgender community’s tremendous diversity.   Over the next few days and weeks, GrayPrideParade and its parent organization, FORGE, will write and post here a series of articles on this 200-page report, highlighting specific topics.  Today, it’s “fast facts” about transgender and gender non-conforming people’s experiences with health care, including some facts health care practitioners ought to know about who is walking through their doors.

“I was forced to have a pelvic exam by a doctor when I went in for a sore throat.  The doctor invited others to look at me while he examined me and talked to them about my genitals.” 

Experiences of abuse and discrimination

  • 28% had been subjected to harassment in a medical setting
  • 26% had been physically assaulted in at least one health care setting
  • 24% had been denied equal treatment at a doctor’s office or hospital
  • 19% had been refused medical care due to being transgender or gender non-conforming (the rate was higher for transgender people of color)
  • 13% had been denied equal treatment at an emergency room
  • 10% had been sexually assaulted in at least one health care setting

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A More Perfect Union, A More Perfect World

That’s the phrase that begins the “Report of the United States of America Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review,” ( submitted by the Obama Administration for a 2010-2011 United Nations review.  

It deserves mention here because its prominent inclusion of LGBT issues has been underpublicized in the LGBT world.  This, after all, is a document that is supposed to represent the United States to the rest of the world. 

In the first paragraph under Fairness and Equality, the Obama Administration notes that it has appointed “several LGBT individuals to senior positions in the Executive Branch.”  (I’m intrigued by the sentence that follows:  “And while individual stories do not prove the absence of enduring challenges, they demonstrate the presence of possibilities.”)

More substantially, the section on “Fairness, equality, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons,” is preceded only by the section on persons with disabilities (the sections that follow are on Muslims, Arab-Americans, and South Asian American persons; women; Native Americans; work; housing; education; and law enforcement).  Here’s the complete text of the LGBT section:

In each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build a more fair society.  In this era, one such group is LGBT Americans.  In 2003, reversing a prior decision, the Supreme Court struck down a state criminal law against sodomy, holding that criminalizing consensual private sexual practices between adults violates their rights under the Constitution.  With the recent passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the United States has bolstered its authority to prosecute hate crimes, including those motivated by animus based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  Since 1998, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has been prohibited in federal employment.  Earlier this year, the Administration extended many benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and supports the pending Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, a law that would extend additional benefits currently accorded to married couples to same-sex partners.  Furthermore, President Obama is committed to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute, which prevents  gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have testified at congressional hearings in support of its repeal.  The President has also supported passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Debate continues over equal rights to marriage for LGBT Americans at the federal and state levels, and several states have reformed their laws to provide for same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.  At the federal level, the President supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.


Trans discrimination survey released

The 3-years-in-the-making, much-anticipated survey of transgender people’s experiences with discrimination and abuse has finally been released!  The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force today issued its 200+-page, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.”  It’s available for download at  Or check back here tomorrow, when I post some of my favorite findings.

Envisioning the Future

At Creating Change 2011, as part of the Aging Intensive on February 3, Hilary Meyer — I’m stuck in Milwaukee, still digging out and kept from Minneapolis by a series of cancelations — is leading a shortened workshop I designed on how the LGBTQ community can start being the leading visionaries for a new view of aging.  You can play along at home and even go farther than February 3rd’s participants by completing the following set of exercises.

1.     Imagine yourself at age 80 (or 20 years from now, if you’ve already seen 80).  Answer the following prompts, each beginning with “When I’m 80…” 

  •  “…my days will be spent….”
  • “…my community will.…”
  • “…attitudes toward LGBTQs will….”
  • “…LGBTQ attitudes toward old LGBTQs will….”

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