Many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender seniors don’t seek needed social services, benefits and health care because they are reluctant to talk openly about their sexual orientation or gender identity with caregivers and service providers. For much of their lives, LGBT seniors knew they could be put in jail or a mental institution for revealing who they are. Due to prejudice about homosexuality, they have suffered the loss of family, friends, schooling, jobs and housing.
To increase LGBT seniors’ comfort in accessing to essential social support services, such as money for food, low-cost housing or in-home support, the Sonoma County Human Services Department Adult and Aging Services is starting a grant-funded, one-year program, Reaching Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Seniors in Sonoma County.
The program is sponsored by a grant from the Sonoma County LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex) Giving Circle of the Community Foundation Sonoma County (www.sonomacf.org) and funds from the Human Services Department.
The program’s first, eight-week series for LGBT seniors, Aging Together With Pride, starts Mon., Oct. 19, 1-3 a.m., at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa. Each of the eight, weekly two-hour sessions allows older LGBT adults to share thoughts and experiences, as well as develop strategies for accessing important resources and services that support optimal aging.
Register by phone at (707) 227-6935. A $20 fee for the series is requested, and scholarships are available.
The series is facilitated by Gary “Buz” Hermes, M.A., co-facilitator of the Sonoma Valley LGBT Seniors Group. Hermes’ background includes senior outreach work with the Spectrum Center for LGBT Concerns, support groups and workshops for LGBT caregivers, positive aging workshops, and service coordination for low-income seniors.