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OUTAging summit ends with Movement Advancement Project report, call for visibility
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by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
2017-05-28

This article shared 1030 times since Sun May 28, 2017
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The two-day OUTAging summit hosted by Pride Action Tank ( PAT ) and sponsored by Lambda Legal, AARP Chicago, SAGE and Affinity Community Services among others closed in dramatic fashion for its capacity attendance at the AARP's downtown Chicago offices May 25.

It was there that Movement Advancement Project ( MAP ) Senior Policy Analyst Heron Greenesmith, Esq. announced the findings of a report released that day and authored by both MAP and SAGE entitled Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults.

According to MAP, the report aimed to "increase awareness of the diverse needs of [LGBT] elders across the country" by presenting "a comprehensive look into the experiences of LGBT elders, highlighting the challenges they face across a wide range of topics from healthcare to financial security and community support, and their resilience in the face of these challenges."

"Today's report is meant to be an introduction to LGBT older adults," Greenesmith said. "Rather than capturing all of their unique and valuable stories, it seeks to summarize data about what we know about LGBT older adults in a format that can be used for advocacy, for engaging and building bridges with new audiences."

Greenesmith noted that the three cornerstones to successful aging: good health and competent healthcare, economic stability and security and strong social and family support were "unfortunately the exact areas in which LGBT older adults face disparities when compared with non-LGBT peers."

"A lifetime of discrimination, especially housing and employment, and a long-term lack of legal and social recognition combine to create deep economic insecurity for LGBT elders," Greenesmith explained. "Nearly a third of LGBT older adults aged 65 and older live at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level."

"Bisexual older adults have shocking poverty rates," Greenesmith added. "Forty-seven percent of bi older men and 48 percent live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Trans older adults have similar rates."

Greenesmith noted that a lack of legal recognition and a lack of funding for LGBT-aging resources "means that LGBT elders are susceptible to isolation. Studies show that LGBT elders are much more likely to live alone and are also less likely to access necessary services for the general aging population like visiting nurses or meal programs."

"Long-term discrimination combined with a lack of competent and inclusive healthcare lead to specific mental and physical health disparities," Greenesmith stated. "LGBT elders face barriers to accessing competent care. Older people living with HIV have particular health challenges as do older transgender people. In all, LGBT people struggle to receive competent, inclusive healthcare that meets their needs and addresses their lifetime of experiences as LGBT people."

"LGBT older adults have been on the forefront of the fight for equality and fairness and they have a right to empowerment and support," Greensemith concluded. "This report is an illustration of disparity and a roadmap for change."

For former Obama Faith-Based and Neighborhood Advisory Council appointee and National LGBTQ Taskforce Assistant Faith Work Director Barbara Satin, a significant part of that change involves visibility.

It served as a recurring theme throughout a candid and inspiring keynote speech which began with an unapologetic rendition of a song from The Who's rock opera Tommy.

"Can you hear me? Can you see me?"

"I have a feeling that I am becoming invisible," Satin said. "We are in a time when the federal government and the administration has decided that it is going to take older LGBT people out of the Older Americans Act annual survey, the Center for Independent Living survey and out of the census. If they don't include us, it means that we're invisible; that they don't have to hear our stories, our needs, our conversations. They don't need to know us. If they don't know us, they can ignore us and that's their intent."

"The progress that's been made in recent years on LGBT issues, equality and rights seem to be fading fast," Satin added. "The rules and executive orders that offered protection are being dismantled as we speak. Many members of the older LGBT cohort are living in a world that presents stark reminders of their past lived experiences."

Workshops included Queering Gerantology moderated by Chicago Department of Public Health LGBTQ Community Liaison Antonio King, Older Adults as Decision Makers moderated by AIDS Foundation of Chicago Associate Director of Program Development Rebecca Incledon and Staying Connected moderated by Affinity Community Services Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon.

The Care Plan founder Jacqueline Boyd hosted a training session centered upon How to Be an Ally to Older Adults.

For more information on the MAP/SAGE report, visit lgbtmap.org/understanding-issues-facing-LGBT-Older-Adults .

Related coverage, OUTAging summit pinpoints challenges faced by LGBT seniors, at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/OUTAging-summit-pinpoints-challenges-faced-by-LGBT-seniors/59284.html .

The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.



This article shared 1030 times since Sun May 28, 2017
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