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.
Although LGBTQ older adults face the same challenges of aging as everyone else, these challenges are often compounded by issues specific to their LGBTQ identities. Due to lifelong challenges facing legal and social discrimination, many LGBTQ older adults experience economic insecurity, lack of housing, lack of healthcare, lack of legal family ties and informal support networks, social isolation, and varied other difficulties.
Some older LGBTQ adults even feel the pressure to “re-closet”— meaning they deny 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. Here are some of the ways we continue to connect and support LGBTQ older adults:
- Our website has information geared specifically to this population.
- A colorful “Pride No Matter Your Age” banner hangs prominently in our lobby to visually demonstrate we are a safe space.
- Printed materials have photos that include same-sex couples, and we’ve included stories about LGBTQ people in our communications.
- Staff has gone through cultural competency training.
- We’ve partnered with other community organizations to offer the first ever Silver Pride event in the District.
- We’ve organized film screenings and other social events for LGBTQ older adults to connect with peers.
We’ve also been at the Capital Pride Festival for the past four 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 nearly 400 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, too including popular topics:
- A Roadmap to Aging for LGBTQ Older Adults
- LGBTQ Older Adults: Understanding Your Public Benefits
- LGBTQ Women Take Charge of Your Aging
- Estate Planning for the LGBTQ Community
We plan to offer these classes, and others, again in the future.
If you’d like to receive information about LGBTQ-related programming here at Iona, please send an email to Susan Messina at firstname.lastname@example.org.