Admitting and accepting one’s identity isn’t an easy task. It is not just the youth of the LGBT community that suffers from discrimination. The aged and older LGBT+ member too are subjected to constant discrimination. According to research, Queer Britons over the age of 50 are often in poorer physical and mental health than their straight peers.
A report from the International Longevity Center suggested that remaining closeted in earlier life may have an adverse effect on older LGBT+ people.
“For example, some people may have hidden their LGBT identity—from a health perspective, this could have led them to hide aspects of their own health for fear of ‘outing’ themselves”, wrote Brian Beach, the report’s author.
“For others, it could have fostered a reluctance to engage with health services for fear of discriminatory attitudes by health care providers”.
LGBT elders are usually left to fend for themselves. While in a normal family, basic healthcare and help are provided by family members. However, the elders in the LGBT community have no one to lean on and are left to fend for themselves.
LGBT elders are also more likely to live in poverty. In a National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, 27% of respondents reported not being hired. Furthermore, 26% are not promoted, and 18% are fired due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination is a major cause of poverty among LGBT members.
Transgenders in the community are faced with constant hurdles. Moreover, they are usually unable to access appropriate healthcare. The aged members of the community usually turn victims of loneliness. Mental health issues were found to be especially prevalent among transgender and bisexual women and those living in rural areas. Older gay and bisexual men were found to have been greatly impacted by the HIV epidemic due to the loss of friends and partners.
LGBT older people often do not access ageing services out of fear of harassment or hostility. Few ageing services providers plan or are reaching out to the LGBT community. There are also few who are prepared to address insensitivity or discrimination aimed at LGBT.
Having to hide their identities in order to fit in results in harming themselves. There are various programmes and organisations dedicated to the betterment of LGBT elders.
“The LGBT elders are active participants in the enduring quest to secure rights and services, just as they have been for decades”.