Question: I am a 70-year-old gay man who looks forward to June and the opportunity to celebrate Pride. However, I live alone, and my circle of friends has been dwindling over the years. Some have retired and moved away, while others have passed away. Like most in my generation, I also lost many friends to AIDS. At times, I feel very alone and am afraid that the years ahead may be even lonelier. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: You are certainly not alone in having these feelings. The isolation we have all experienced in the COVID pandemic has taken a toll on our relationships. And, according to SAGE, an organization providing advocacy and services for older LGBTQ+ adults, the pandemic has been especially tough for this group.
SAGE estimates 5 million LGBTQ+ adults aged 65 and over will be living in the U.S. by 2030. Compared with the general population, they are twice as likely to live by themselves and four times as likely not have children. SAGE also reports that nearly one-third of LGBTQ+ adults over 65 live below the federal poverty line, which presents substantial barriers to them receiving the resources they need.
AgeSpan is a resource in your area that can help you age safely and independently. One option you might try as a means to meet new people is the LGBT Senior Social Connection, a program started by our agency and the Merrimac Senior Center. These meetings are in person and provide a place to gather, learn about area programs and services, and make new friends among people of your generation. We are holding monthly meetings at both the Merrimac and Tewksbury senior centers. You can find out more information about both groups by calling 978-946-1476.
This month, AgeSpan and our partners are presenting a virtual conference that addresses the topic of isolation. The 11th Annual LGBTQ+ Elders in an Ever-Changing World Conference takes place on Friday, June 24. The keynote speaker is award-winning filmmaker Stu Maddux, who will be discussing “Social Isolation, Loneliness, and Resilience in LGBTQ Older Adults” and his new documentary, All the Lonely People. Maddux is well-known for his documentary, Gen Silent, about Boston-area LGBT older people who hid their sexuality or gender to survive in the long-term care system. To register, visit: https://lgbtqeldersconference.org/
I hope you will reach out and try LGBTQ+ Senior Social Connection and attend some of the many local Pride events to explore new possibilities of friendship and community. I wish you the best of luck.