Ageing gays go back into closet to avoid discrimination

AGEING lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in New South Wales fear discrimination in aged care, a Southern Cross University study has found.

But Robert Baldwin, co-founder of the 150-strong Older Lesbian Gay Action (OLGA) social network, believes the study underestimates the resilience of LGBTI people.

"The report's idea that people go back into the closet as they get older and need to access aged care services, while I think that's true, it's also created a lot of power in people," the 53-year-old said.

"Many LGBTI people have taken past negative experiences, stood up and said 'that'll never happen again'.

"They've built resilience from the negativity and I don't see that being acknowledged enough."

The Lismore man also believes some issues highlighted by the study are indicative of widespread problems in the aged care sector which affect the general public, not just LGBTI people.

"Whether you're gay, straight or whatever, you tend to leave much of your personal identity at the door," he said.

However, he said specific issues do rear their head, depending on the individual in care.

"Everyone's experience is different," he explained.

Mr Baldwin said continuous collaboration and discussion between older LGBTI people and aged care providers is necessary to improve inclusion and understanding.

OLGA, which started in March, 2013, offers support and social activities for senior LGBTI people living at home and in aged care, Mr Baldwin said.

The group often conducts social activities, such as croquet, and meets regularly at different locations around the Northern Rivers.

Those interested in joining the group can phone Rosalind Hawkins 0400 374 513 or email olganrivers@gmail.com.

 



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