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.
Older Americans Month was first recognized in 1963, started by President Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens to draw attention to the needs facing older adults in the United States. Older Americans Month is now overseen by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), which designates a new theme each year.
The theme for the 2017 Older Americans Month is “Age Out Loud.” According to the ACL, this theme seeks to highlight the ways that elders are staying engaged, striving for wellness, advocating for important causes and being leaders in their communities.
Throughout the month of May, we’ve asked LGBT individuals what aging out loud means to them. We wanted to hear how they are engaging their communities as leaders, advocates and role models. We also wanted to gather their advice to others about how people of all ages can age out loud.
The responses below were collected from residents of the John C. Anderson Apartments, volunteers with the LGBT Elder Initiative and participants at the May 18 SAGE Table event at William Way LGBT Community Center, part of a national initiative to build greater intergenerational dialogue within LGBT communities.
“Aging out loud means being true and honest about myself.”
— Bill, 66
“To me, aging out loud means taking aggressive actions on one’s behalf – advocating for quality health care and other aging services (such as long-term care), promoting both emotional and physical wellness, and engaging in political action to make myself heard.”
— Sandra, 66
“Aging out loud involves continuing my life’s role as a natural explorer yearning to grow, experience and love.”
“I just try to be myself and not worry about what anyone else thinks. Who cares what they think? I don’t!”
— David, 59
“To age out loud, I believe that you should know your strengths, stay in your lane and interact for as long as you can. Be your best and do your best for yourself and the community.”
— Elizabeth, 69
“I try to keep active so I don’t lose my energy and drive as I get older.”
— Jim, 71
“Aging out loud means living without fear and making an effort to show up for my friends.”
— Ed, 57
“Remain young at heart. It is important to have intergenerational conversations and tell real-life stories.”
— Ricky, 55
“I write a blog on biomedical research and the biology of aging. Following the latest research allows me to share health tips with others.”
— John, 75
“Aging out loud means feeling comfortable in my own skin and sharing my wisdom with others!”
“Celebrate life, cry when needed, heal, make love, stay in the moment and be willing to forgive yourself and everyone else.”
— Gloria, 54
“I am open about being gay and show concern about the needs of all people. I stay engaged by organizing activities at my church.”
— Peter, 79
For us in the LGBT community, no matter our age, it is inspiring to see members of our community staying engaged, acting as advocates and working to build a better community for all of us. We are fortunate to have great community leaders who are leading the way and aging out loud!