Since 2005, the United Kingdom has marked February as LGBT* History Month. At Time to Shine, recognising the needs of older people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* is particularly important when it comes to addressing social isolation. Research has shown:
· LGBT* elders are two-and-a-half times as likely to live alone, twice as likely to be single; and four-and-a-half times as likely to have no children to call upon in times of need than their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts (Knocker, S 2008)
· The experience and expectation of mistreatment means that LGBT* elders are less likely to engage with services than their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts (Gusap, 2011). When they do engage with services, 50% of LGB elders are likely not to want to disclose their sexual orientation because they fear homophobic mistreatment (Gusap, 2011); no data is currently available on the non-disclosure of gender history because of fear of transphobia in older trans communities in the UK.
· LGBT* elders are hesitant to stay involved in the “scene” due to their age and fear of being rejected. (Phillips and Knocker, 2009)
Yorkshire MESMAC and Age UK Leeds are partnering to deliver bespoke services for people who are over 50 and identify as LGBT*Q. The project is launching on 11 March with an event, and will be developed by a steering committee to ensure that the service fits the need.
Jude Woods has been recently hired as the Community Development Worker. She comes to the project with years of experience working with the LGBT* community in Leeds, and is very excited to be starting in this role. She says, “I am pleased to be working on this fantastic new project which will reach older people who have limited opportunities to participate in activities which are suitable for their needs.”
The project will be officially launched on 11 March 2016 at Age UK. Everyone who would like to learn more about the plans is welcome to come along.
They are also looking for older LGBT*Q people who would like to be part of the steering group to help develop the programming. The group will meet quarterly, with the first meeting being:
17th March 2pm-4pm at Yorkshire MESMAC, 22/23 Blayds Yard, Leeds, LS1 4AD.
Attending does not require a commitment to coming to future meetings. Feel free to come along and try it out!
A note on terminology: LGBT*Q stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer. Trans* is an umbrella term referring to all gender-nonconforming identities. Yorkshire MESMAC and Age UK have chosen to include those who identify as Queer in their project in an attempt to be as inclusive as possible. (Many people simply use LGBT, as in the organisers of LGBT History Month.)