I am interested in issues of well being, spirituality and health for older gay and lesbian people. Quite a lot of work has been done on these things outside Australia, in, for example:
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
LGBT Aging Project of Massachusetts
SAGE: Seniors Action in a Gay Environment, New York and elsewhere
Lavender Seniors of the East Bay
New Leaf Outreach to Seniors, San Francisco
Spectrum Centre, San Anselmo
The Age Concern’s Opening Doors, United Kingdom
… and many more
A Gay and Lesbian Health Resource Unit is being set up now in Melbourne’s La Trobe University, in the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. The Unit will be a clearinghouse for gay and lesbian health research and resources and is to provide information and training in GLBTI health and wellbeing issues for health care providers (including aged care services) in Victoria.
The Unit was created following a recommendation of the Victorian State Government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Health (MACGLH). In July 2003, the Committee released an action plan, Health and sexual diversity: a health and wellbeing action plan for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) Victorians. The plan notes the following concerns for older GLBTI people in particular:
obstacles to maintaining friendship, family and social networks for older GLBTI people who come out later in life and those GLBTI people living in rural communities;
ageism within GLBTI and mainstream communities, including exclusion from GLBTI social networks and invisibility within mainstream social networks;
issues associated with caring for older partners, relatives and friends;
invisibility within the (community and residential) aged care sector in relation to service provision and general acknowledgement and positive representation of the needs of older GLBTI people; and
discrimination in institutionalised aged care and other forms of service provision that older GLBTI people access.