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You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
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A Lifetime of Changes for Gay Seniors
At this point, it’s fair to say that today’s gay seniors have seen their lives change in ways that were unimaginable fifty years ago. Since the late 1960s, major advancements in gay rights, along with wider visibility and acceptance in society, have largely transformed the world for members of the LGBT community of every age. But even as the world has changed, the lessons learned by today’s gay seniors are still applicable for anyone coming of age and becoming more comfortable in their sexuality.
Lessons learned by today’s #LGBTseniors are still applicable for anyone coming of age. #LGBTpride Click To Tweet
Maybe that’s why a video called “Seniors Give Gay Advice!,” produced by vlogger Davey Wavey, struck a chord with so many viewers: it’s an emotional video that features several lesbian and gay seniors reflecting on the changes they’ve witnessed and participated in, ending with advice from one generation to the next on self-acceptance, finding a place in the LGBT community, and living in a world that can be openly hostile toward members of the LGBT community.
While these gay seniors are only a few voices, their experiences and advice are an excellent starting point in understanding and learning from members of the LGBT community who have witnessed decades of change.
Positive and Negative Experiences of Gay Seniors
Many gay seniors, including the individuals featured in Wavey’s video, share stories of discrimination, loneliness, and hostility based on their sexual orientation. One man shares his story of a realtor refusing to show him a house because he’s gay. Elsewhere, gay seniors who came of age in the early years of the AIDS epidemic have spoken about the panic of being diagnosed with a disease that was both misunderstood and feared throughout the community. It’s easy to hear these stories and view the lives of today’s gay seniors as a series of struggles and disenfranchisement, but at the same time, many gay seniors view society’s progress through their lifetime as a story of hope:
- Marriage Equality – One of the gay seniors in Wavey’s video, when asked to reflect on the changes he’s witnessed, responds, “I never thought I’d live, in my lifetime, to see gay marriage.”
- Self Value – Another of the gay seniors, after speaking about being unsure that anyone would ever love, value, or even hire her, ends by saying, “My life is pretty great now.”
- HIV / AIDS – Gay seniors who lived through the early years of the AIDS epidemic have seen vast improvements in treatment options and quality of life for HIV-positive members of the community.
While the phrase “it gets better” has become something of a cliche, it’s still very true for gay seniors, who have witnessed society moving from bigotry and fear toward acceptance and advocacy.
Many #GaySeniors view society’s progress through their lifetime as a story of hope. #LGBTpride Click To Tweet
Gay Seniors on Acceptance vs. Assimilation
Almost as long as there’s been a gay rights movement, there’s also been a fundamental disagreement about how the LGBT community fits into society. Even in the wake of the gay marriage decision, some parts of the community chafed at the idea that lesbians and gay men were expected to fit into mainstream society’s idea of relationships and commitment. In Wavey’s video, and in the stories of many other gay seniors, the tension between assimilation and acceptance is still present.
For many gay seniors, there is still the desire to find a space between being accepted for your differences and having them be ignored, and one of the most striking moments of the “Seniors Give Gay Advice!” video directly touches on this dynamic: when asked for her advice to the next generation, one of the participants says, “our queerness…that thing that sets us apart, that can cause us to feel unwanted, unloved, rejected and alone in the world is a gift.”
Making a Place for Gay Seniors in the LGBT Community
While Wavey’s video, along with many other stories and memories shared by gay seniors through programs like StoryCorps’ “OutLoud” series, are important to understanding LGBT history and progress, it’s also important to remember that gay seniors are still an important part of the LGBT community, and have needs and concerns that we still need to fight for in the ongoing discussions of gay rights.
- Children – Gay seniors are 4 times less likely to have children than the rest of the senior population. With seniors increasingly relying on their children for long-term care, this leaves gay seniors at a distinct disadvantage as they age.
- Poverty – Since many lesbian and gay seniors experienced employment discrimination throughout their lives, they are also more likely to experience poverty and a lack of retirement savings.
- Health – Studies have consistently shown that transgender, lesbian, and gay seniors have health concerns–both physical and mental–that go beyond the rest of the population’s, including higher HIV rates and instances of depression and isolation.
#GayPride We must ensure quality care and services are available for #LGBTseniors. Click To Tweet
The stories shared by gay seniors, along with videos like “Seniors Give Gay Advice!,” are valuable to the LGBT community, but we should also be careful not to treat the experiences of gay seniors simply as cautionary tales of the “bad old days.”
The lives of gay seniors are not a closed book, and the LGBT community can acknowledge the sacrifices and successes of previous generations by working to ensure that transgender, lesbian, and gay seniors are able to age with dignity, access to quality care, and services that recognize their unique needs and concerns.