Here at the San Mateo County Pride Center, we acknowledge and celebrate the incredible knowledge, wisdom, and expertise that older LGBTQ+ individuals have to offer. Over the years, the older members in our community have paved the way for the progress and freedoms we enjoy today. From Stonewall to the AIDS epidemic, you have truly exemplified the bravery, resilience, and determination of the LGBTQ+ community. We wish to thank you for your tremendous contributions to our movement, and for laying the groundwork that allows the youth of today to live their true, authentic lives.
We also recognize the stigma, internalized oppression, and lack of safety that older LGBTQ+ adults experience. Older adults within the LGBTQ+ community are more at risk for isolation, neglect, and discrimination. A recent national survey of LGBTQ+ older adults in long-term care facilities found that only 22% felt they could be open about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with facility staff. Additionally, in another recent national health study on LGBTQ+ older adults, respondents listed senior housing, transportation, legal services, social events, and support groups as being the most needed services for LGBTQ+ older adults. Assisted living, referral services, in-home health services, meals delivered to the home, short-term help for caregivers, and fitness and exercise programs were also programs and services that are needed for LGBTQ+ older adults.
We have learned that the stigma and discrimination many older adults have faced continue into their later years as well. Older LGBTQ+ adults have been forced back “into the closet” out of fear of discrimination, mistreatment, and more. Consequently, many LGBTQ+ older adults avoid or delay seeking care until their health deteriorates and crisis hits.