Through the dedication and love of many people across generations and around the globe, in 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges “that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and thus required that all US states and territories recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples. For many couples who had been living together for decades, they were finally afforded the same privileges as other couples. While the numbers of sexual and gender minority older adults are growing rapidly, they remain a largely invisible segment of the older adult population.
The Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study is the first federally funded study addressing aging among LGBTQ older adults throughout the United States. An estimated 3% of U.S. adults aged 50 years and older self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender on public health surveys, representing about three million adults. However, as tolerance and understanding become more open and laws are changing, it is the hope that older adults in the LGBTQ segment of the population feel safer and more open to expressing their love safely and without judgment.
Strong communities are essential for aging well and it is up to us as a community to make sure that diversity is welcome and that all people feel they can age in a strong community with the support they need to age gracefully. For many LGBT older adults this is a more trying experience than for others.
According to a study done in 2014 by The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, there is a lot more worry about aging for the LGBT community.
Throughout history, many brave individuals have paved a path to change. As we celebrate pride month, it’s important to consider leaders in shaping positive change both past and present, so that we can see what we are doing in our own communities to help foster inclusion and diversity.
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