Can you imagine not having access to your loved one enduring a lengthy hospital stay? Can you imagine being strategically left out of the end of life decisions for your partner or significant other? Do you have the legal standing necessary to handle your partner or chosen family member’s affairs?
A family of choice is a phrase used with pride to describe the close-knit relationships and adopted kin networks for LGBTQ+ populations. The presence of a secure and functional support network is one of the most vital components of healthy adjustments and optimal functioning for LGBTQ+ aging populations (SAGE, 2014).
Our nation’s population is aging, with the baby boomers entering retirement and adjusting to empty nests and finding new.... Read More
Social Isolation and the Holiday Blues for LGBTQ+ Older Adults
In normative aging, the evolution from adult to older adult often parallels exposure to ageist societal attitudes and behaviors. Seniors are adapting to changing circumstances of bereavement, relocation, and the digital divide of technology. Some are exploring social media to close the gap of connection to family and friends, while adjusting to retirement and smaller social circles. With all these moving pieces, the holidays come and may cast a shadow of isolation and potential loneliness to once vibrant, active and engaged individuals.
The holiday season can bring on holiday blues or ‘winter blues’ for vulnerable populations of older adults and elders. Triggers for social isolation during the holidays included changes in family structure that may result in more significant numbers.... Read More
Black History Month: A Closer Look at The Minority Stress Model and Older Adult Sexual Minorities
I’m always pleased to see great activists and icons of the Civil Rights Movement, inventors, artists, academics and musicians celebrated during Black History Month. Historically most have experienced interlocking oppressions of race, class and gender, and have shared stories through biopics and documentaries, while unsung heroes and survivors among us share their stories in small communities throughout the country. Many older adult minorities continue to report facing minority stressors within and outside of our communities (Velez, Moradi, & Brewster, 2013). This Black History Month, while we are remembering significant people and events in the history of the African diaspora, let’s take a closer look at the stress, struggle and resilience that continues to impact the lives of aging older adults.... Read More
Recap: 2017 Fall Couples Retreat for Older Lesbians in Chicago
Older lesbian couples in urban settings continue to seek community events that address their needs. In response, I created a Fall and Spring weekend retreat for a small group of lesbian couples in the Chicagoland area in 2013. In November 2017, the 4th annual older lesbian couples retreat was held in Westchester, IL. As facilitator and Life Coach, I presented sessions on self actualization, finding purpose, defining relationship goals, and effective communication.
LGBT aging resources for financial planning and long term care was also provided. In addition, Terri Worman, AARP Associate State Director for the Greater Chicagoland.... Read More
Carol discovered her passion for creative arts at the age of nine, and at 67 years old she continues to create and inspire others. She completed courses at the Art Institute of Chicago and received a fine arts degree from Columbia College. She currently facilitates the Creative Arts Healing Circle at Affinity Community Services, where she regularly volunteers her time and talent. Carol teaches a variety of painting.... Read More
New Peer Group for LGBTQ Women of Color 50+ at Affinity Community Services
Midstreamers is a new group at Affinity that addresses the unique needs of LGBTQ women of color 50 years of age and older. It is a welcomed addition to the current peer led groups: 40 plus, Trailblazers, Spectrum and Proud Parents.
Midstreamers is an energetic group of women who represent a significant cohort of Affinity’s constituency. Most recently, the group enjoyed a theatre outing in January, attending “Blues for an Alabama Sky” at the Court Theatre in Chicago’s Hyde Park. The event was well attended by members and guests.
On September 14th, Affinity Community Services‘ Trailblazers Who Care hosted a FREE Medical Advocacy workshop facilitated by The Care Plan, at our new location located in the historic Bronzeville community on Chicago’s southside. This senior programming workshop discussed advocacy for yourself and or a loved one in a medical setting. The Care Plan facilitator, Jacqueline Boyd, provided information on senior wellness and securing the maximum service from your health-care providers. The workshop series began in May and has covered senior advocacy for caretakers and families alike. The Care Plan provides consultations for managing and mapping successful senior health and aging. Our constituents have found the services offered by The Care Plan to be compassionately helpful and timely in the.... Read More
St. Martin’s LGBTQ Elders Find Strength in Families of Choice
In the Austin community on the Westside of Chicago, Father Chris Griffin serves a diverse congregation of elders, adults and youth at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. St. Martin’s is an open and affirming space offering a safe haven for LGBTQ people. In the shadow of the Orlando shooting, Father Chris speaks with me about the senior ministry team and the importance of embracing our elders and their families of choice during this emotional time.
Q: How does St. Martin’s embrace the LGBTQ elder community? Fr. Chris: Our seniors play an important role within the various ministries of the church..... Read More
LGBTQ Families of Choice Devastated By an Act of Terrorism
This morning I woke to sadness and heartbreak, hoping still that the nightmare was not a reality. As I searched for morning traffic reports, all stations and channels were reporting updates on the weekend tragedy that rocked the nation and hit my LGBT community at the core. The Orlando shooting not only penetrated the hearts of so many families of origin, but even more families of choice.
I heard a disturbing request by officials asking that only “family” contact their information hotline, as they are attempting to confirm identification of the victims. I was saddened to think that many families of choice may be the only family that confirms the identity of some victims. The reality is that our.... Read More
“On The Table” Offers Chicago’s LGBT Elders a Seat at the Table
On the Table is an annual forum designed to increase conversations around civic engagement among residents and organizations. This gathering fosters new relationships and creates a unified experience across the city and region.
As thousands gathered in Chicago, I joined a group of great folks brought together by AARP to discuss the intersectionality of aging and LGBT identity. Our table of community members and organizational representatives openly shared the celebrations and challenges of aging as an LGBT person, some of which I discussed in a previous Diverse Elders Coalition blog. We also identified.... Read More
April is National Stress Awareness Month and there is no better time for seniors to relax and recoup! Our LGBT seniors may face daily stress regarding housing, healthcare, and finances. Thankfully, many can find comfort in community during regular interaction and engagement in programming provided by community organizations such as Affinity Community Services in Chicago, IL. Affinity provides a safe and brave space for LGBT seniors participating in the monthly Trailblazers peer-led group.
The LGBT communities face high levels of discrimination and prejudice for who they are and who they love, beginning in youth and continuing through later years in life. Compounded with the stress of aging – issues of health, fitness, mental health, caregiving, economic security, and.... Read More
Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus at Creating Change 2016
The National LGBTQ Task Force held its annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago, IL this past week, and it was insightful and awesome. The conference offered several workshops to address the needs of diverse elders. I had the honor to co-facilitate the Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus with Vega Subramaniam and Ben Guzman as we engaged in rich conversation with diverse elders across this country to explore the needs and perceived barriers to adequately service our LGBTQ seniors.
This quick glimpse into the genuine lives of our participants expanded our knowledge and helped us develop a brief list of concerns.... Read More