Monday, June 4, 2012

Retirement communities for LGBT seniors can be hard to find

Robert Hulshof-Schmidt  Portland GLBTQ Issues Examiner, Reposted at,

As the Baby Boomers reach retirement age they bring with them a new series of challenges and opportunities. One of these is the significant number of openly gay and lesbian retirees looking for supportive communities and care facilities. Because the boom generation was just entering its 20s as Stonewall galvanized the LGBT community, they include the first real wave of out and proud retirees.

While these men and women are part of larger communities, many have sought cities and states of residence that are more supportive of gays and lesbians. Unfortunately, the retirement and elder care industries do not currently provide a similar model for senior living. Even if the retirees do not want exclusively LGBT neighbors, they want to be sure that they are safe and welcomed as they make their moves. More importantly, if they become less independent, they want to be sure that their caregivers are gay friendly and embracing of diversity.

While many states and cities prevent housing and care discrimination based on sexual orientation, that does not guarantee a happy living or care situation. As a result a handful of LGBT-oriented retirement communities have begun to emerge. The Gay Retirement Guide lists many of them. Unfortunately, most of the listings are either "planned projects" or facilities that vaguely describe themselves as "gay friendly." As many LGBT travellers have learned, hotels that use that label vary widely in just how embracing they are. Making a residential decision requires an even clearer commitment.

One of the best established facilities is Rainbow Vista in Gresham, Oregon, just outside of Portland. The Solipsistic Me has a good overview of this community, including information from the general manager and an enlightening interview with one of the residents. His experiences clearly indicate how important it is for the retirement and care industries to quickly adapt to make more safe and embracing options as the number of LGBT retirees booms.

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