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Problem of older LGBT people ‘going back into the closet’ while in care to be discussed at workshop

Older LGBT people feeling like they have to go back into the closet in residential care will be one of the problems discussed at an innovative workshop this month.

Elderly LGBT people can often be more dependent on health and social care services than straight counterparts, says Opening Doors London, the charity which is running the event.

The free workshop, held in partnership with Age UK Lewisham and Southwark, will celebrate the lives of Southwark’s older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community, as well as talking about the challenges LGBT people face in older age.

“I’m very excited about the event – we’ll all make sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, but it will also raise a lot of awareness of the incredible contribution that older LGBT+ people have made to the freedoms younger LGBT+ people can experience today, as well reminding us that older LGBT+ people are often more dependent on health and social care services than some of their heterosexual neighbours,” said Jim Glennon, Training and Consultancy Manager at Opening Doors London.

“We’re also really grateful to Age UK Lewisham and Southwark for partnering with us, and for offering their venue for us to meet and share experiences together,” he added.

Homosexuality was only partially decriminalised in 1967, meaning many LGBT pensioners will have lived through a period where it was illegal to be gay.

Many also feel that they have to go ‘back into the closet’ once they are in care, or feel less able to be open about their sexuality and gender identity.

Staff members of the charity which aims to tackle problems facing elderly LGBT people

Stephen Carlill, 67, who lives in Herne Hill with his husband and attends events put on by the charity told the News: “We get together for a couple of hours each month just to chat really.

“People don’t really understand that there are lots of LGBT issues at both ends of the age range.

“One of the problems of getting older is that you become somewhat isolated. Friends die off or you become limited in your mobility.”

Mr Carlill said he “dreaded” the thought of going into residential care because “the experience of many LGBT people is that they go back into the closet when they get into residential care.”

Care homes with a significant numbers of lesbian, gay or trans staff members tended to be better, he added.

The charity is the biggest tailoring services to older LGBT people and runs monthly social events and also runs a befriending service to break down the isolation older LGBT people face.

The free workshop runs from 2pm-4.30pm on Wednesday Feburary 13, at the Yalding Healthy Living Centre on Southwark Park Road.


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