Senior Members of the LGBT Community Often Do Not Feel Safe in Long-Term Care Residences

Recently a friend was telling me about the discrimination that her relative suffered as a gay man entering a seniors’ home. The experience was so alarming that he felt he had to move. However, in his new community he was still afraid to acknowledge his sexuality. So back into the closet he went.

It is clear that the whole study of elder abuse must include some serious work among those who work with older adults or in long-term care facilities, many of which continue to be bastions of homophobia and discrimination against LGBT adults. As the Coalition of Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario has said, “We have lesbian great-grandmothers, gay uncles, and bi-sexual cousins! Principally what has changed is the number of people prepared to come out and be publicly identified.”

While there seems to be more support for younger LGBT people, the same attention and concern has not been shown for older members of the LGBT community. Many are afraid to come out or be open about their sexuality when they move into long-term care homes. Thus their dignity and rights to full-participation in society, as well as their sense of security and safety are severely undermined. It is imperative that we find ways to fight against this perverse form of ageism.

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