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Will Gay Seniors Going Into Care Facilities Be Forced Back Into The Closet?

As most people age they face many challenges such as declining health and financial issues.  Below are excerpts from two articles that explore a very important issue affecting LGBTQ seniors as they go into care facilities: Will they be forced back into the closet?

Metro Vancouver's LGBTQ Seniors Facing Discrimination
[Vancouver, B.C.] People forced to hide their sexual identity for most of their lives shouldn’t be pushed back into the closet as they age, concludes a report released Monday in Vancouver. The discussion paper called Aging Out is the result of conversations between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) seniors in Metro Vancouver with staff of the Qmunity resource centre in Vancouver’s West End. “There’s a deep level of self-closeting in our older generation,” says Dara Parker, executive director of Qmunity. “This is a generation that when they came of age, it was illegal to be who they were. “They grew up in a generation where they weren’t treated very well. Most people didn’t accept them and they’re aging with that same generation who’s going to be in the same care home,” explains Parker. “The challenge is that their legal rights have not translated into lived equalities. So the day-to-day experiences and the culture that we live in still prevent people from being fully included and feeling a sense of safety.” And because few lesbian and gay couples had children in past generations — and many were rejected by their relatives — they are often alone in old age or relying on a circle of friends that differs from a traditional family. The report makes two recommendations: that health authorities add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to their intake forms for publicly funded residential facilities; and that seniors be given more than 48 hours to accept or reject a bed when it comes open so they can determine whether it’s suitable. Health officials were consulted during research for the report and Parker said the most common reaction was that it’s an issue they never considered. READ MORE


LGBTQ Seniors Fear Going Into Care Because It May Mean Being Forced Back Into The Closet
[Vancouver, B.C.] The transition from living independently to living in a care home is hard enough. Coping with the fear of discrimination over your sexual orientation can only make it harder, but that’s the issue facing a growing number of seniors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer (LGBTQ) community. A new report by Qmunity, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, has found that LGBTQ citizens who lived through the culture war that carved out a place for them in society now worry they’ll have to go back in the closet when they move into care. The paper, part of Qmunity’s Aging Out project, found LGBTQ seniors worry they’ll face homophobia from staff and insensitive treatment from health care providers. Many already do, says Dara Parker, Qmunity executive director, ranging from overt homophobic slurs to condemnation of lifestyle choices. “There’s various levels of closeting,” said Parker. “They might tell one person but not somebody else. They might choose to hold their partner’s hand in front of one nurse but not somebody else.”
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