Dec 29 2010

Senior
 

In the Bible in Palms 71:18 there is a verse that says, "When I am old and gray, do not forsake me..." 
The LGBT community is about to lose their tribal leaders, elders and generational history without even a peep. In addition, our collective soul might be scarred for ignoring the plight and needs of those whose sacrifice made it possible for today's generation. Most will never even know or enjoy the rights that they fought so hard for you to celebrate today. They couldn't adopt children, run for office or serve in the military. Often they were institutionalized or forced to live lives of lies and fear.

The baby boom generation of LGBT citizens is the one that spans our history from the oppressive 50's, to the transitional 60's, the liberating 70's, the plague ridden 80's and the beginning of hope in the 1990's. A good deal of the male population of those times already passed in the prime of their youth from HIV/AIDS. Some of the most remarkable women LGBT leaders came to power in that time. Epic battles and tragic stories are waiting to be recorded and told to future generations.

The LGBT community must acknowledge that this generation of LGBT baby boomers is getting old in a time with few services to meet their needs as LGBT seniors. Often they are in smaller and smaller living units, scraping by with little food, limited access to healthcare and almost no living facilities to share with other senior LGBT citizens. The few gay men that are still alive after the AIDS onslaught have few or no peers to share their senior years since the disease wiped out so many of their friends. Like it or not, what remains from the pandemic is an epidemic of loneliness among our seniors.

Adding to our shame in treatment of our LGBT seniors is the fact that we are losing our history. These citizens lived and experienced the transformation of the LGBT community over the last five decades. Their stories are invaluable to future generations especially since we have lost so much of our history to HIV/AIDS. Not only are our storytellers gone but their papers were often destroyed by surviving straight family members. Oral histories should be happening all over the country now. The stories of oppression, bravery, courage and battles fought should not be lost. From our history comes our self esteem and sense of community.

"When I am old and gay, be by my side. Tell me what value I have been to your journey. Let me feel your love and help me celebrate my past. Hold my shaking hands and reassure me of my value. Give me your love to strengthen my journey into new transitions. I know we can all do this as family, as a tribe and as a very special people." David Mixner