A masters degree student in Canada is hoping that a new study will lead to the opening of comfortable and safe retirement homes aimed at LGBT retirees.
Alex Sangha, a masters student of social work at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, has set a target of 25,000 Canadian dollars to run a feasibility study to start a retirement home specifically aimed at the gay community.
Sangha said that lesbian and gay people in retirement homes are faced with discrimination, which can lead to pressure to go back into the closet after they retire.
The student, originally from Vancouver said that many LGBT retirees face depression, and even suicide, made worse by the fact that a high proportion don’t have family to rely on.
“There’s a lot of risk of alienation and isolation and loneliness,” he said.
He also revealed that he wants to help older generations who were the first to speak out and campaign for LGBT rights:
“We need to [help] our elders and our seniors who have fought for years for rights for our generation to live in dignity, to live in respect and to live with compassion,” The Vancouver Sun reported.
Richard Sullivan, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of social work, also commented on the issue, saying that the situation is even worse than Sangha suggests:
“For fear of prejudice [gay and lesbian retirees] are avoiding aggregate care to the point where they probably should be using it, where they’re no longer safe in their own home.”
He also mentioned a link to the AIDS epidemic, saying:
“The wealth of the gay and lesbian community is greatly diminished by the fact that baby boomer men in that community perished at a rate of 50 per cent through the AIDS epidemic,”
“If that had not happened I would venture to say there would already be a resource like this.”
According to Gay Retirement Guide there are several LGBT friendly retirement homes and centres across the USA, but the same site details only one gay-friendly cooperative housing site in British Columbia, and no actual retirement homes.
In January, the planners of Spain’s first gay retirement home secured a plot of land on the outskirts of Madrid, and are reported to be in the process of constructing the home.