Pride Month
May 19, 2023

Recognizing and Celebrating PRIDE Month

Recognizing and Celebrating PRIDE Month

By Colleen Scott, NYSOFA Advocacy Specialist

Why is there a month dedicated to LGBTQ+ Pride? Pride month – in June – has been celebrated every year since the Stonewall Riots (1969). More than five decades later, why is it still necessary?

  • Because people don’t get denied housing for being straight.
  • Because people don’t get leered at when they hold hands with their opposite sex partner.
  • Because no one loses their job for being straight.

As People Magazine puts it, “Pride is an entire month dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture and support of LGBTQ rights.”

Unconscious Bias

According to the National Institute of Health, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults have been a largely invisible and infrequently studied population. Similar to other historically disadvantaged or marginalized populations, LGBTQ+ older adults are disproportionately affected by an increased risk of serious illness and disability in contrast to their older heterosexual peers.

Examples of institutional bias which adversely affect LGBTQ+ individuals and their families include the following: refusing to allow a same-sex life partner at the patient’s bedside in dire medical circumstances (such as when the person is in the ICU), refusal to release the body of a loved one to their partner at the time of death, directing communication regarding medical matters to the person’s adult children rather than their life partner, etc.

Health Disparities

SAGE is a national advocacy and services organization that’s been assisting LGBTQ+ elders since 1978. They focus on LGBTQ+ communities and keeping issues affecting these communities in the national conversation to ensure a fulfilling future for all LGBTQ+ people. SAGE reports the following disparities.

  • Access to health care: Overall, LGBT people have lower rates of health insurance coverage. Additionally, when employers offer health insurance to the same-sex partner of an employee or retired employee, federal law treats the value of the partner’s insurance as taxable income and the LGBT retiree must pay income taxes on this benefit.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV diagnoses among those over 50 are on the rise, and the proportion of people living with AIDS in that age group is now more than double that of people under age 24.
  • Mental Health: Numerous studies have shown that the LGBT population as a whole experiences higher rates of smoking, alcohol use, drug use, suicide and depression.
  • Chronic Physical Conditions: Studies suggest higher levels of chronic and other health problems among LGBT older adults, including asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and certain illnesses such as cancer.

Did You Know?

  • The Stonewall Inn was declared a historic landmark by NYC in 2015 and by President Obama in 2016.
  • The rainbow LGBT flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, an American artist, gay rights activist, and U.S. Army veteran, in 1978.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius of art, science, and engineering as well as the famed painter of the Mona Lisa and is universally acknowledged to be gay.
  • Alan Turing, a British mathematician, enabled the Allies to defeat Adolf Hitler in World War II by breaking the code for the Nazi Enigma Machine. Sadly, the British government arrested him in 1952 for the "crime" of homosexuality. Soon after being chemically castrated by order of a British court as punishment for being gay, Turing died by suicide, ingesting cyanide, in 1954.

Resources

  • Read NYSOFA’s LGBTQ+ Resource Guide For Older Adults and Aging Services Networks. The guide provides background on the unique service needs of LGBTQ+ older adults, along with a comprehensive statewide directory of over 200 organizations who specialize in LGBTQ+-inclusive services. This statewide resource is designed for older adults and the providers who serve them. It identifies trusted organizations that provide a range of services and supports, from nutrition to legal advocacy, home and community-based care, long term care, health services, social supports, and so much more.
  • National Resource Center on LGBT Aging: The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
  • SAGE USA is a national advocacy and services organization that’s been looking out for LGBT elders since 1978. 877-360-LGBT.
  • Read NYSOFA’s 5 Questions conversation with Sherrill Wayland, Director of Special Initiatives at SAGE, to learn more about SAGE and ways that aging services providers can best serve LGBTQ+ older adults in their communities.