June is Pride Month across the United States, when communities, organizations, and individuals celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people and culture.
Iona is proud to be committed to outreach to older members of the LGBTQ community.
This spring, American University student Yan Shi shot a short video focusing on the needs of older LGBTQ adults. It features interviews with Iona volunteer Wes Morrison and me.
- Watch and hear Wes’ thoughts on losing more than 100 friends to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how families of choice are so important.
- Listen as I share my thoughts about social isolation, estrangement from families of origin, and how valuable it is for younger LGBTQ folks to reach out to the older generations.
One big problem is that older LGBTQ adults fear discrimination. They are afraid to come out, being unsure of how they will be received. They often do something we call “re-closeting”— meaning, denying their true sexual orientation or gender identity for fear that a senior services organization, nursing home, or home health aide might treat them poorly.
Iona doesn’t want anyone to have to live in that fear or to go back in the closet. Iona has beefed up our “rainbow” expression in several ways:
- Our website has information geared specifically to this population.
- A colorful “Pride No Matter Your Age” banner hangs prominently in the lobby.
- Printed materials have photos that include same-sex couples, and we’ve included stories about LGBTQ people in our annual reports.
- Staff have gone through cultural competency training.
We’ve also been at the Capital Pride Festival for the past three years. We always have an interactive, colorful, and fun booth that attracts lots of attention. While the Pride crowd tends to be younger, we still have people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s stopping by.
This year, we asked people to leave advice for their younger selves and more than 300 people participated. Read some of our favorite answers here.
Iona’s offered special Take Charge/Age Well Academy™ classes for people who identify as LGBTQ. We plan to offer more in the future.
If you’d like to receive information about LGBTQ-related programming here at Iona, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure you are kept in the loop.
By Susan A. Messina
Susan is Iona’s Director of Development and Communications. She holds three master’s degrees, including two from Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.