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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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Making a Space for LGBT Seniors in Chicago
Chicago’s gay seniors now have a place to call their own: with the opening of the Center on Halstead’s Town Hall apartments in August 2014, the city gained its first space dedicated to LGBT seniors, providing a supportive and welcoming environment in the city’s traditionally gay Boystown neighborhood. While it’s one of only a few senior housing developments for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay seniors, it signifies a major shift in how agencies are approaching the unique health and social needs of LGBT seniors.
In addition to the 79 apartments in the Town Hall complex, the Center on Halstead also established the Center on Addison, which provides a wide array of social, wellness, and advocacy events for the neighborhood’s LGBT seniors. The center draws over 150 attendees each week to events that range from meal programs to meditation and tech support. The apartments and community centers provide a model for what LGBT senior care should look like and how community agencies can ensure that LGBT seniors have the resources they need to age successfully.
Promoting Healthy Aging for Gay Seniors
The estimated 1.5 million LGBT seniors in the United States are faced with a host of obstacles as they age: in addition to a higher risk of poverty and financial insecurity, there are several social and health barriers that can make aging especially daunting for gay seniors:
- Face Discrimination – LGBT seniors are twice as likely as their non-LGBT peers to live alone, and many of these seniors feel forced back into the closet out of fear that caregivers and agencies will discriminate against them based on gender or sexual orientation.
- At High Risk – Additionally, some mental and physical health issues are much worse within the LGBT community: instances of depression are much more common in gay seniors, as is the need for continuing HIV treatment.
- Lack Respect – With increased reliance on healthcare and housing providers, many transgender seniors have concerns about dealing with medical and support staff who do not understand their situation or respect their privacy.
- Needs Unmet – The unfortunate reality is that most of the country’s senior housing and medical facilities are not prepared to meet the needs of LGBT seniors, a group whose population is expected to double by 2030.
Transforming a “Place of Degradation” to a “Place of Honor”
Chicago’s community centers and the Town Hall apartments mark a major step forward for LGBT seniors, especially since the apartments are intended for low-income seniors who might otherwise find themselves unable to afford housing in an LGBT-friendly neighborhood. Additionally, the site chosen for the Town Hall apartments marks the neighborhood’s progress: the building was formerly a police station known for its discriminatory practices toward Chicago’s LGBT community until the 1990s. Transforming a space that was once known for raids on gay establishments into affordable housing for LGBT seniors is much more than a symbolic act, however:
- Accessible Services – Gay seniors living in the Town Hall development now have easy access to onsite community services, social gatherings, and senior resources provided by the Center on Halstead.
- Sense of Community – Additionally, many residents of the facility have shared that they feel embraced and supported by their peers, eliminating some of the social isolation faced by many LGBT seniors in other developments.
- Safe Environment – LGBT seniors living in the facility can also feel safe within a community of their peers and can share their life experiences and backgrounds with people who understand and empathize with the struggles they’ve overcome.
When Town Hall development opened in 2014, it became only the third LGBT-focused senior housing complex in the country. There were over 400 applicants for the 79 available apartments, indicating that the need for LGBT-friendly accommodations is far from being completely met.LGBT senior apartments transform place of degradation to place of honor. #LGBTseniors Click To Tweet
Town Hall Apartments as a Model for LGBT Senior Housing
LGBT-friendly senior housing is a growing need, and Chicago is not the only major city moving to support lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay seniors: similar developments have been established in Philadelphia and Minneapolis, and more are sure to follow. These new centers would do well to take a page out of Town Hall’s book when it comes to providing LGBT seniors with access to the services they need to age successfully and continue to have a place within the greater LGBT community.