Aging as Queer People of Color: Activists Needed

The Department of Health and Human Resources sets the poverty line at $10,890. However, if you are queer, of color, and aging in one of the top 5 cities with the highest cost of living, affordable housing, health care, food and medicine may not be the only concerns.  Supervisor, Christina Olague, emphasizes that it is critical for LGBTQ seniors to be able to age in San Francisco, the place where LGBTQ people can truly be themselves, tipping a hat to the recognizable acceptance of gay culture in our colorful city.

In July, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) co-sponsored a discussion on the relevant issues facing LGBTQ seniors of color at The Women’s Building. Larry, a gay senior, says he now feels like a dinosaur and a stranger in the Castro.  The Castro District, the symbol of the Gay Mecca, is filled with the energy of youth, leaving in the shadows the elders of the movement. “How can elders transmit wisdom to the younger people”, Larry asks while admitting he worries about the increase in HIV numbers thus suggesting a generational gap in communication.

Other identities are excluded in this younger Castro, as well as in other spaces.  Felicia, who begins, “I am a screaming queen”, asks “Where are all the memorials of our transgender heroes?”  A member of the Asian and Native American community expresses concerns that her religious rites, chanting, were not allowed when she was going through cancer treatment.  The concern of an elder queer of color is: how do you age in a city that restricts your multi-layered identity? A Chinese gay senior born in this country talks about how many Chinese immigrants were persecuted in China for their sexuality and will not admit to being gay.  This makes gathering information difficult.

The LGBTQ Seniors Task Force wants to make sure the needs of all queer seniors but especially queer seniors of color and transgendered seniors are collected in a report for the Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor, Scott Weiner, says that this report will advise the Board of Supervisors in making goals for how San Francisco will provide for this aging group. To guarantee that the needs of queer elders of color are met, it is vital that the Task Force be diverse to represent the entire community.

Help the Task Force be strong and apply for the committee. The application is on the SF Board of Supervisors’ webpage here and the deadline is August 24, 2012.

As a symbol for equity, peace, and justice, The Women’s Building recognizes the importance in reassuring our queer elders of color that they are not forgotten in the shifting demographics of San Francisco. For this reason, The Women’s Building strongly encourages all willing and eligible people to join LGBTQ Seniors Task Force.

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