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.
Now in 2017, we have seen great progress locally and nationally in LGBT rights and acceptance, including on issues related to LGBT aging. It is no secret, though, that the new presidential administration has greatly disrupted this progress and shaken many in our communities. LGBT people of all ages, as well as older adults of all orientations and identities, are facing uncertainty about their rights and the futures of the programs they rely on for health care, housing, employment and more.
Advocates around LGBT-aging issues are needing to mobilize like never before to ensure that our successes are not erased and that the programs and benefits that older members of our communities rely upon are not eliminated. We need to protect Medicare and Medicaid, vital programs that LGBT older adults are disproportionately likely to rely upon. We need to preserve the Older Americans Act. We need greater data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity despite the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back these initiatives. And we need to push to ensure that all members of our communities, including trans individuals, bisexuals and people living with HIV, have access to services that are informed, inclusive and safe.
The LGBT Elder Initiative is proud to present this Special Section on LGBT Aging, exploring the policy issues and advocacy efforts to fight for our communities in trying political times. We thank PGN for their attention to this important issue, and for providing an avenue to further educate about the needs facing our older-adult communities. We also extend deep thanks to Action Wellness, the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), residents of the John C. Anderson Apartments, participants in the May 18 SAGETable and the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs for contributing content to this special section.
David Griffith is the director of programs and outreach for the LGBT Elder Initiative. To learn more about the LGBT Elder Initiative and upcoming programs for LGBT older adults, visit www.lgbtelderinitiative.org.