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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 23 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 34
Of seniors and stereotypes - Most older LGBTs are far from rich - and they need our help
Section One
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Of seniors and stereotypes - Most older LGBTs are far from rich - and they need our help

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

Like most LGBT people, you may not think regularly about our seniors and their needs. Did you ever note how few of them are out at community events, with the exceptions of fundraisers and benefits? But those at events where they can contribute are those with funds. These are the ones the mainstream media like to stereotype us by. Rich white men.

The reality is we are not all rich, well-to-do, or even comfortable. Some members of our community are poor, some even homeless, and as a community we have almost ignored those individuals while fighting equality in marriage and military and other issues. But note, the mark of a true community is how it treats its most vulnerable members. In our community there are two groups that fall into that category - youth (and we've really begun to address their concerns) and seniors, for whom we are only in the pioneering stage.

Did you know that a recent study found 13 percent of LGBT seniors are concerned about housing? Many worry they'll be put into senior-housing situations where they will be harassed, and others worry they will not even qualify because of discrimination. Others are already being mistreated in their current housing. Then there are those who are homeless.

POVERTY WIDESPREAD
Little is being done in our community nationally to begin to solve these problems thus far. There is only one affordable senior living facility that is specifically LGBT-friendly in the nation at present - Philadelphia's groundbreaking project is under construction and will open next year. Chicago will be next up. After that, there are plans for San Francisco to have a groundbreaking on 40 units by 2015. But, nationwide, that is it.

How bad is the need? Last week here in Philly we had our first public meeting to explain how interested residents can qualify. We expected about 30 people and put out chairs for 50, but that was not enough. It was standing room only. We could tell you some of the attendees' stories here but let me leave you with a counter-debate on that mainstream-media report that we're all rich. The minimum annual income to qualify for the project is $8,000. There were people in that room who do not meet that requirement. You read that right - they earn less then $8,000 a year.

What are we doing for them?

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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