The Risks of Aging In the Closet

closet doorAlthough they have long since retired, have little or no contact with their families of origin, and have been with their partners for decades, the women interviewed in the Health Policy Solutions article “The Risks of Aging in the Closet” (http://www.healthpolicysolutions.org/2013/03/13/aging-in-the-closet/) all used their middle names to avoid being identifiable.

“Alice and many of her gay friends still live with reflexive fear in their bones,” the author notes.  Alice, who was a teacher, didn’t live with her partner for the first 30 of their 36 years together for fear that would “out” the teacher.  She and her partner have still not come out to their physicians.

They did recently try coming out to a young worker at a senior center, but in a true display of the generation gap, the worker responded, “So what?”  “It really struck me that this lady has no clue as to what might happen to us,” Alice said.

“While the young person may have intended the comment as a show of support, Alice is convinced that she and her partner would not fare well in a traditional support group full of straight couples dealing with Alzheimer’s.  She’s heard of discrimination in assisted living centers and nursing homes.  While many young people might be supportive of gay couples, seniors worry that their own peers might not welcome them.”

The long article also discuss a new service, GLBT SUSTAIN, which has been funded by The Colorado Trust to provide support to GLBT elders who are aging in place in Capitol Hill, an area that has one of Colorado’s largest LGBT populations.  It also mentions SAGE of the Rockies and several social groups for older LGBT Coloradoans.

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