By Milton Wendland
© 2012 Diversity Rules Magazine and Milton Wendland. All Rights Reserved.
Milton Wendland is a licensed attorney and a professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses in LGBT cultures, sexuality and law, and queer theory.
Dear Milton – Gay culture seems so youth-oriented. Any advice for us “gays of a certain age?” Frank
Advice? Hmm… Age is just a number? You’re only as old as you feel? 50 is the new 30?
All kidding aside, a shout out to all LGBT people who are middle-aged, senior citizens, or “of a certain age” because we are truly the ones who’ve lived through LGBT struggles and many of us have been the ones at the fore of putting LGBT rights where they are today.
But in all honesty, LGBT elders are often over-looked by gay culture at large, written off as unattractive, lecherous, useless, or just plain out of it. And that’s not too different from how our culture at large treats seniors. The good news is that it is changing! As the baby boomer generation reaches senior status, they are refusing to be written off before their time. The best advice is probably the easiest: Get involved! Stay active! Speak out! Live! Check the internet or your local LGBT center for community social and activist groups.
SAGE USA (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders; www.sageusa.org) has become the source for all things LGBT senior. Though SAGE has been around for thirty years, it has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade and now focuses on LGBT aging issues, provides education to caregivers, supports employment efforts, and more. SAGE has partnered with several LGBT organizations to sponsor the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (www.lgbtagingcenter.org), providing access to literally dozens of resources relevant to LGBT seniors – from information about seniors and HIV to Medicare/Medicaid issues to end of life decision-making. The center includes the “T” in LGBT proactively, with a plethora of resources for transgender seniors. Even the venerable AARP is inclusive (www.aarp.org/pride) offering retirement, financial, and health tips specific to LGBT seniors. The AARP remains the preeminent powerhouse for aging concerns on Capitol Hill.
In addition the number of LGBT-dedicated or LGBT-friendly retirement communities is increasing, especially in the southwest. A quick internet search reveals communities all over the U.S., but as with any major decision, you would want to review carefully all rules and costs before committing to any community.
May I suggest one activity that you might find really rewarding? Get in touch with your local campus and offer to sit on panels of LGBT folks. I regularly have panels like this in my courses and students love them. Local libraries, community groups, and non-profits will also appreciate your time arranging and speaking on these panels. A few hours here and there telling a bit about your story and you can change the world.
Dear Inqueeries – It’s almost Thanksgiving. I know “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” will be on TV. So tell me true… Are Peppermint Patty and Marcie lesbians?
Yes Peppermint Patty and Marcie are a butch-femme lesbian couple. And Linus is asexual, Schroeder is a homo, Lucy is a butch dyke, Sally is a fag hag, Snoopy & Woodstock have an interspecies gay relationship, and that Thanksgiving Dinner of toast, popcorn, and a handful of jellybeans is the makin’s of a very queer Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!