In 1969 a gay club in New York City called the Stonewall Inn was raided by police and many of the patrons inside were arrested. LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) individuals at the time were regularly harassed, discriminated against by local law enforcement and faced persecution for gay relationships as well as gender-nonconforming clothing. Patrons who avoided arrest and local gay rights activists took to the streets and rioted for five days. Their protest was one of many that fueled the burgeoning gay rights movement.

In honor of the Stonewall riots, June has become Pride month, a time to celebrate queer culture and recognize the efforts of gay rights activists throughout history. Pride month includes festivals and parades throughout the country and world, memorials and plenty of rainbows.

This June (and every month), let’s ensure that everyone in the LGBTQ community is supported, including seniors. While we’ve come a long way in the fifty years since the Stonewall uprising, LGBTQ individuals can still face discrimination and exclusion. This is a particular problem for seniors who rely on the support of family, caregivers or local organizations to stay safe and independent.

LGBTQ seniors who rely on the support of others are in a vulnerable position. An article from the Washington Post highlights how LGBTQ seniors often times experience less support from family, worry about having to hide their identity and are concerned about neglect or discrimination due to their sexuality. Whether or not you identify as LGBTQ, we can all be allies for senior LGBTQ individuals in our actions, language and engagement.

Here in Boulder County, we’re lucky to have a vibrant LGBTQ community. Boulder was even ranked as one of the top cities for LGBTQ retirement. This is due in large part to local organizations like the ones below who support the Boulder County LGBTQ population.

  • Out Boulder County: With community gathering spaces, diverse programs, education and lots of events, Out Boulder County is an organization that provides support and engagement opportunities for our LGBTQ community.
  • Rainbow Elders: For LGBTQ individuals and allies over 50, Rainbow Elders is a monthly newsletter with events and information relevant to the LGBTQ population. The group also hosts a supper club on the second Thursday of the month.
  • Project Visibility: This is a web-based course designed by the Boulder County Area Agency on Aging. It’s designed for managers and employees of organizations like assisted living homes and home health care agencies who interact with LGBTQ seniors. The course promotes education, sensitivity and inclusion in caring for marginalized individuals.

Building a strong, vibrant community means ensuring that everyone is included and supported.  We can help support our senior LGBTQ neighbors with pride all year round. Stop by a Pride Festival in Longmont, Denver or Boulder, donate your time or money to local organizations like Out Boulder County or check out and contribute to national projects like StoryCorps’ Stonewall OutLoud or the Human Rights Campaign. Let’s all get involved! How else can you support our senior LGBTQ community?