Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08



VIEWS: No golden years for queer seniors
by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

This article shared 3335 times since Wed Nov 16, 2011
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

The last thing in the world many LGBT people want to be is a queer senior. And with good reason: entering the "golden years" in the queer community can be like entering a living hell.

It means being dismissed by younger people as sexually and socially undesirable or being patronized because you're a piece of living history. It's being invisible in queer publications ( except when you die and the gushing obits come out, saying what a great hero you once were, emphasis on "once" ) .

It's having the issues that are life and death to you ( such as cuts to Social Security and other benefits you so desperately need to survive ) ignored by LGBT organizations too busy promoting marriage or political candidates who will end up backing more cuts.

According to many studies and reports, queer seniors are poorer than their straight counterparts. With threatened cuts to every program that might benefit seniors, they stand to get poorer and less able to fend for themselves. Already, queer seniors are half as likely to have health insurance, and two-thirds as likely to live alone. Not to mention that they routinely face discrimination in medical and social services, retirement homes, and nursing care facilities.

By 2030, queer seniors will number about 3 million. That's a lot of people for the LGBT community to ignore. But unless things change, it'll do just that—ignore them, as it does now.

We live in a youth-obsessed culture. A quick at TV and the movies will demonstrate that. Old age is perceived as a disease that has to be kept in check by any means necessary. There's no reward for wrinkles or thinning hair, and no reverence for the wisdom of having lived many decades on this Earth.

For me, the worst part about getting old is losing the ability to take care of myself. I've always been on my own. Ever since I was forced to leave home when I was 19 or 20 ( Papa couldn't deal with having an activist son ) , I've managed to work, put food on the table and pay rent.

I chose to work for nonprofits and small businesses that reflected my political views, so I never earned tremendous amounts of money. There were no fancy vacations or extravagant purchases nor a house with a lavender picket fence. Thankfully, I can look back at my working life and say that I contributed something to society.

This doesn't mean a hill of beans when I can't pay the rent or go grocery shopping because the meager amount I may be forced to live on in my old age on will barely cover the essentials. Add on some sickness that needs constant medication and I could be seriously screwed.

When I look at the agenda of queer organizations, I see nothing that reflects my needs as a queer senior—no lobbying for universal healthcare, no mobilizing against the cuts that are devastating services for elders and no advocacy for affordable housing or renter protections. Few cities have affordable LGBT senior housing, and even those that do have it don't provide enough units to meet the need.

I came out at a time when gay sex was illegal, gay-bashing was an honorable sport, discrimination was seen as reasonable and right, and being queer was the absolute worst thing you could possibly admit to.

Yet, getting old is the scariest thing I've faced in my life.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: the early years of gay liberation ( City Lights Books ) . He is a longtime radical queer activist, writer and performer living in San Francisco. He writes a regular blog piece at under his own name and has a website at .

This article shared 3335 times since Wed Nov 16, 2011
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Who is my neighbor? 2022-01-20
- The notion of functioning as a Good Samaritan is one that transcends any particular faith tradition. The idea of humans treating humans in a humane way sounds so simple, yet history and modernity are replete with ...

Gay News

Failure to enact Freedom to Vote is a blow to vulnerable groups 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - From Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund: "The failure to enact the Freedom to Vote, John R. Lewis Act is a profound blow to our Democracy. The inability to ensure ...

Gay News

VIEWS Trans women passing the torch 2022-01-19
- I am writing this letter to the editor to compliment Windy City Times on its recent article "Passing the torch: How generations of trans women approach activism, advocacy," by Max Lubbers. The article highlights how the ...

Gay News

Two join races for state office, Personal PAC comments on threats to reproductive rights 2022-01-18
-- From a Personal PAC press release - Chicago, IL — Today, following the news that anti-choice extremists Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne would run as Republicans for governor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Personal PAC President and CEO Terry Cosgrove released the following ...

Gay News

VIEWS Hoarders 2022-01-10
- One TV program that I alternately love and hate is Hoarders. The producers send a team of psychologists, organizers and laborers into a person's home and they all work (and argue) about cleaning the place up ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT For LGBTQ community, the movement behind Jan. 6 is an existential threat 2022-01-08
- The stakes could not be higher. The LGBTQ movement has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in democratic societies worldwide. Where we have had access to freedom of speech and assembly, remarkable advances have followed. This is ...

Gay News

LETTER Continue the dialogue on racism 2022-01-08
- I am writing this letter to the editor about the article that appeared on the Windy City Times website titled "A look at Northalsted/Boystown bars since 2020 town hall on racism," written by Cris Villalonga-Vivoni. Also, ...

Gay News

LETTER Remembering Archbishop Tutu 2021-12-28
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away in Cape Town, South Africa, on Dec. 26 at the age of 90. In 1984, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to a society with ...

Gay News

VIEWS Remembering our sister-friend bell hooks 2021-12-16
- bell hooks died on Dec. 15, 2021, at 69, in Kentucky. As a Black Appalachian, bell hooks was inarguably one of the nation's prominent feminist scholars and authors, and a friend to everyone she met. Last ...

Gay News

VIEWS Will Smollett's hoax affect public perception of hate crimes? 2021-12-13
- Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was recently found guilty on five of the six counts of felony disorderly conduct for concocting an elaborate racist and homophobic assault against himself. Each Class 4 felony count can land ...

Gay News

SAVOR Sweetwater Tavern & Grille 2021-12-04
- The popular Loop spot Sweetwater Tavern & Grille—which specializes in contemporary U.S. cuisine, and which is part of the Bottleneck Management stable of restaurants—has a lot going for it. First, there are the views of the ...

Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Thanksgiving is a time to reflect 2021-11-24
- Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for a God that created us and loves us. The sins of racism, sexism, ageism and classicism are neoclassic examples of how we have fallen short. We have come ...

Gay News

VIEWS Young people need to listen to LGBTQ elders' intergenerational experiences 2021-11-20
- For one of my first Windy City Times assignments, I was lucky enough to spend nearly three hours interviewing longtime LGBTQ+-rights activist Michael O'Connor. As queer individuals living in Chicago in 2021, we had plenty in ...

Gay News

VIEWS Reporting on queers of color needs to investigate absence as much as presence 2021-11-19
- Earlier this month, I pitched a Windy City Times article that sought to explore how role playing games (RPGs), such as Dungeons & Dragons, enable queer people of color (QPOC) to explore their gender and sexuality ...

Gay News

VIEWS In defense of the word 'lesbian' 2021-11-19
- When I decided to come out to my mom, I wanted to wait until I could say the word "lesbian" out loud. But as I sat her down, I tripped over the long string of letters. "Mom, I'm gay," I blurted ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.