Monthly Archives: April 2013

Elder LGBT Sexuality

phyllis-lyon-del-martin-marriage-2The Windy City Times recently ran a long report on a workshop on the sexuality of older LGBT people.

The panel, presented at the March American Society on Aging conference in Chicago, featured Robin Dessel, director of memory and vision care services and sexual rights educator at The Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale; Mark Brennan-Ing, Ph.D., a senior researcher with AIDS Community Research Initiative of America; and Hilary Meyer, director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Brennan-Ing reported on a Chicago study of older LGBT adults with HIV.  Two-thirds said they had sex two or three times monthly, but 41% indicated that they avoided sexual activity, “either because of lack of interest or physical problems (e.g., erectile dysfunction).” Dessel spoke to the issues of figuring out consensual sexuality in a population with Alzheimer’s Disease, and Meyer addressed more statistics about aging sexuality.  The full article is available at

Contrasting Stories of LGBT Long-Term Care

Ann WallsThe Dallas Morning News recently ran an article showing the diversity of what LGBT elders might encounter in long-term care facilities.

Three years ago Kee Holt, center services manager at Resource Center Dallas, called all the nursing facilities in town to ask about LGBT residents.  “I was told, ‘We don’t have that here.’ I was hung up on a few times.  I was told, ‘They’ve grown out of that by now.’ I was really disheartened to find that people just didn’t think it existed in those places.”

On the other hand, Ann Walls and her partner Gienna Smith moved into an independent living facility together.  “They knew what the situation was, but nobody talked about it,” she said.  “We didn’t tell them.  We chose to be discreet.”  But after Smith died, Walls said, “I stayed there another year and those ladies really stepped up and were there for me.  It was like living with a built-in support group.”

The full article is available at

White House Wants LGBT Elected/Appointed Officials

white houseThe White House is looking for nominees for its new award program, “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”

Established in 2011, the White House Champions of Change Program regularly spotlights ordinary citizens who are doing extraordinary things for their community, their coutnry, and their fellow citizens.  In that tradition, the White House says, “we will honor as Harvey Milk Champions of Change a small group of LGBT and local elected and appointed officials who have demontrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service.”  They are especially looking for “unsung heroes” — individuals whose contributions have gone unrecognized.

The nominations are due before Friday, April 19, 2013.  The nomination form is at  More information on this effort is available at

Before You Know It

Before you know itBefore You Know It is a new film depicting three gay men, one in his 60s, the other two in their 70s.

The American Prospect reviewed the film’s debut at the SXSW festival (see and concluded:

“The film serves as a particular tribute to a generation of gay men who grew up in post-World War II America, when the traditional nuclear family was at its height — and who then, as the sexual revolution reached its peak, were confronted with HIV/AIDS.  At one point, Ty holds up a picture of his group 30 years prior.  He points to each one who’s since died.  Robert’s nephew, who’s also gay, describes his family’s horrified response to his uncle’s sexuality, while others at the bar [LaFitte’s] talk about having had no one except their friends at LaFitte’s.  The stories, just a few decades old, lend a new profundity to the current moment for gay rights.  We see Ty celebrate marriage equality in New York.  Dennis participates in his first Pride parade, dressed as Dee.  Robert feels too ill to join in the Mardi Gras celebrations his performers put on.  But from his porch, he can see them in the parade — a notable move forward that he helped to create.”

Details on the film are available at; reviews and commentary by the producer are available at

SAGE Center Check-in

SAGE mealIt’s over a year old now, and more than 1,100 participants have registered for the SAGE Center, the first senior center devoted to LGBT older adults.

“I actually see people’s faces change,” says a front desk staffer.  “They come in looking like they’re carrying the weight of the world, but are soon smiling when they see all of the people.”  “For many LGBT older adults,” the article at Chelsea Now continues, “a beautiful center specifically for them to gather, dine and learn in may have been hard to imagine.  The SAGE Center represents a movement to acknowledge and respect the lives of LGBT seniors.  For the guests, this is just as imporant as the nutritional content of their meals.”

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Asking Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Questions

InclusiveQuestionsforOlder-AdultsMore and more, aging service providers are being asked to ask their clients about their sexual orientation and gender identity.  But these are traditionally taboo subjects!  What’s a caring service provider supposed to do?

Read this new manual:  “Inclusive Qustions for Older Adults: A Practical Guide to Collecting Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.”  This new publication from the National Resource on LGBT Aging is available at Continue reading

Teaching Love

Del ThusiusThey met in 1965, when David Richard was assigned as a student teacher to Del Thusius in Portage, Wisconsin.  It was love at first sight.

Their life partnership ended on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was debating gay marriage, when Thusius died in a Plainwell nursing home at the age of 85.  In between, they loved, taught in the same school district, lived together…and entered places separately.  “One of us would go in and the other would stand behind the door for a minute and then walk in,” Reichard recalled.

They also evolved.  For much of his life, Thusius struggled with his sexual orientation.  Yet on Reichard’s most recent birthday, Thusius gave him a very special gift: a wedding ring.

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