PGN Special Edition Coverage

When the LGBT Elder Initiative was first formed back in 2010, founding members came together to envision what an aging-services system would look like if it were to become LGBT culturally competent, welcoming and affirming. Since then, the LGBTEI has worked with community members, LGBT-serving organizations and aging-services providers to push for an aging-services network that will effectively meet the needs of our communities as we age. 

You can find additional resources and services for LGBT older adults at www.lgbtelderinitiative.org. To contribute additional resources, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 215-720-9415. 

Even in the best of times, planning for the future can be full of anxieties related to housing and finances. The cost of maintaining a home is a challenge, especially when repairs and modifications are needed to make spaces more age-friendly. The financial obligations of long-term care are burdensome for many, on top of the complexities of finding the right long-term-care option to ensure that health-care needs are met. Unless someone has sufficient savings or a pension, even keeping up with daily expenses is difficult post-retirement.

Despite all the talk about health care in the news recently, people are still surprised when I tell them that Medicare and Medicaid are LGBTQI+ issues. Yes, health care affects everybody. But health care disproportionately affects older adults and individuals with disabilities, particularly LGBTQI+ older adults and individuals with disabilities.

Each May, Older Americans Month is a time to acknowledge the contributions older adults make to our society and to raise awareness about aging issues across the country. It is also a time to honor older individuals in our communities and to celebrate aging. Each May, various ceremonies, events, fairs and other such activities are organized as Older Americans Month initiatives.

I’ve reached a point in my life when some activities have become difficult. This situation is by no means restricted to me. I’m part of a small, and getting smaller, group of trans women who were here living our lives and fighting for equality since the 1950s and to this day carry the physical and emotional scars from what we went through. Many of us are still involved. Names that come to mind are Elizabeth Coffey Williams, who starred in some of John Waters’ movies; Andrea Harrington; Tina Montgomery, the doyenne of dance; Sheila Colson-Pope with RAGE; June Martinez-Bailey aka Pebbles, a longtime activist for the HIV/AIDS community; and many others.

The Older Americans Act (OAA), passed in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, works to support the ability of older Americans to live at home and is the genesis of the aging network. The aging network — comprised of federal, state and local entities — is the organizational infrastructure created to develop, plan and deliver home and community-based services to older adults and their caregivers. 

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