PGN Special Edition Coverage

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. 

Visibility is precious. Many folks are unaware that bisexual people have been a driving force in the LGBTQ community since before Stonewall and continue to be leaders within local, regional and national organizations and campaigns. Every day, bisexuals young and old work side by side with the larger LGBT community to effect change and equality. However, when it comes to advocating for the “B” in LGBT, our bisexual communities are often excluded and invisible.

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