Growing older LGBT is complicated

We know that ageing presents both opportunities and challenges, but within the older LGBT+ community the outlook is often more complex and sometimes less positive.

Opening Doors London’s (ODL) experience is that our own members have particular concerns about their future care provision as they view services as almost exclusively heterosexual and have anxieties about experiencing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia when they are likely to be at their most vulnerable.

Discrimination is rife

We have reports from clients and colleagues that discrimination is still rife in the care industry. Paul Webley, a co-ordinator at ODL, has worked with hundreds of LGBT+ clients over the past five years as part of a befriending service. He says older people are right to be concerned: "I absolutely know that homophobia is alive and kicking in the care industry. I've met many people who tell me stories of carers who, when they realise they're a gay woman or a gay man, don't want to be washing them.

 

These people have spent enough of their lives suffering all the years of homophobia and abuse and being arrested and just being made to feel like second-class citizens in a country where they were brought up and lived and paid their taxes, and everything else.

 

Pride in Care

ODL believes passionately that older LGBT+ people should not feel the need to ‘go back in the closet’ to protect themselves from anticipated abuse. They should be able to live their lives as openly and fully as any older person, embracing their full life experience. ODL has launched Pride in Care, a quality standard for organisations providing services to older people to help ensure that everyone is better able to age with dignity, security and fun in their lives. Our goal is that everyone receiving care is treated with dignity and respect.

Alice Wallace is Director of Opening Doors London (ODL) the biggest charity providing information and support services specifically for older LGBT+ people in the UK. You can email info@openingdoorslondon.org.uk for support  or call 020 7239 0400

Have you been affected by these issues?

If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can contact Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline on 0300 330 0630 10am-10pm every day, or by email at chris@switchboard.lgbt

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.

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