Making Sure It Gets Better – And Stays Better
June 13, 2011
Supporting LGBT senior citizens is an issue of growing importance – even a matter of life or death. Research sponsored by the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) found that one in nine of all seniors in America face the threat of hunger and the problem is growing. SAGE estimates there are 1.5 million LGBT seniors in the U.S. and the number could reach almost 3 million by the year 2030.
Once upon a time, these LGBT people were just like you and me. They had a job, maybe a life partner and didn’t give much thought to their golden years. But as time passed, many of them not only lost their youth, they also lost their good health and financial resources. The stereotyping of gays with money is actually a myth. In fact, the UCLA Williams Institute found that poverty rates for many lesbian and gay adults are as high or higher than those of heterosexual adults.
I am the Assistant Vice President of Communications & New Media at MOWAA and last year we formed our "Gay Task Force.” Our pressing objective is to raise awareness of senior hunger in the LGBT community. It’s not easy. Research and even anecdotal evidence that I’m sure you’ve witnessed reveal that the gay community is guilty of ageism. This subjects our seniors to bias and feelings of worthlessness.
I know we’re better than that. When Matthew Shepard was killed, we demanded justice. When we heard stories of young people taking their own lives, we told the world’s LGBT youth that “it gets better.” It does get better for most of us — until we get old. We must never forget the seniors who forged a path of greater tolerance in America. They rioted at Stonewall. They marched for our rights. Many of those LGBT seniors are going to bed hungry tonight and that is a travesty. Let’s stand together to help our hungry seniors before it’s too late.
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