“By 2020, the amount of people over 65 living in England is projected to be 10,603,000”

BY BIRMINGHAM LGBT

You’d be hard pressed to have missed Ageing With Pride, Birmingham LGBT’s most recent health and wellbeing campaign.

With billboards stretched all over the “second city” and ads splashed across the pages of the UK’s queer media, Ageing With Pride has been making waves for our ageing, LGBTQI population.

Now, as the campaign draws to a close it’s legacies are still very present.

Carrying on the good work

Having reached millions of people in Birmingham and across the UK, Ageing With Pride has played a huge part in providing mainstream representation for older LBT people and the specific needs they have as they get older, to avoid both loneliness and isolation.

But now that Ageing With Pride is wrapping up, it’s time for the community to continue with the commitment of challenging ageism; confronting over 50s isolation; and including all LBT women – regardless of age.

“We can really see how successful Ageing With Pride has been,” says Rico Johnson-Sinclair, the man behind Ageing With Pride at Birmingham LGBT. “We now just need the community to carry on the good work!

“There’s so much more to do! If you run a bar, ask yourself, ‘Is this place inclusive of older LGBTQ people? If you manage a community group, be concerned about those at risk of isolation within your group. If somebody goes off the radar for a while, call them! There’s so much we can all do.”

Generations

Generations, an event organised by Ageing With Pride connecting older and younger members of the community, took place in June 2019 and endeavoured to get to the bottom of what divides us in the LGBTQI community.

Both younger and older generations were worried about the monetisation of the community and it becoming mainstream, whilst the younger generation’s evolved language to better understand the LGBTQI community is seen my more mature members as divisive.

The word “queer” was especially reactive, which begs the question – how can we make the older generations of LGBTQI people feel accepted and included while maintaining the identities of the younger generation? How do we come together?

An ageing society

By 2020, the amount of people over 65 living in England is projected to be 10,603,000 – with 152,600 living in Birmingham.

Isolation and loneliness are significant factors in older people all over the world, and is especially present in the LGBTQI community with a large number of older people losing loved ones in the AIDS crisis; past discrimination making it hard for LGBTQI people to build a future; and a club and events scene being focused on younger people.

Older people are even reporting discrimination in care services from peers making it harder for LGBTQI people to be out and proud while in care.

One of the older members of the LGBTQI community engaged in the Generations event said:

“As well as the embarrassment of being spotted by colleagues who happen to use the local bus services, I found myself talking to other young and less young people outside of my usual bubble and learned a couple of things:

“Ageism isn’t the only “ism” in our community – and this has made me look closely at myself and my circle of friends to see what part I/we play in that.

“The battle for equality and recognition really isn’t over – and as a member of a minority it probably never will be. And this takes me back to my first point that even in this minority, I’m a majority member and I need to be sensitive to that.

“I need to keep reconnecting – the loneliness that I occasionally feel is self-imposed and part of a somewhat vicious circle.”

Still, as the sun sets on Ageing With Pride, services like Ageing Better, a UK-wide initiative to combat loneliness and isolation in older people begins to thrive!

Focusing on tackling isolation for those who are over the age of 50 (with a specific LGBTQI hubs existing to facilitate those specific needs) Ageing Better makes resources available so that over 50s begin to feel empowered and able to get involved in the community again.

To find out more, click here or contact Maria Hughes at mariahughes@blgbt.org

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