By Michael Thomas Masters
At 80 million strong, and with plenty of oomph, the baby boomers generation is the largest in American history.
The forthcoming holidays and New Year are customary times for all people, especially the vast population of baby boomers, to contemplate on our futures. All baby boomers have experienced many winter holiday moons past.
Nevertheless, a particular segment of baby boomers with valid concerns and insights that are often over-looked (or completely ignored) in regards to aging, in both print and visual media, are the millions of American gay baby boomers who are 50 plus. In addition to our being largely over-looked in regards to our aging needs and concerns, we repeatedly also experience increased bias and discrimination, which is of great concern.
One of the few films that deal with the lives of elder gays, “An Empty Bed” (1989), reflects on the grace, struggle and honesty of aging.
In these obstinate and challenging economic times, no baby boomers needs, nor deserves, additional unfair worry and stress reaped upon us, due to our sexual orientation, especially at this festive time of the year. After all, trimming holiday trees, creating fabulous dinners, sharing gatherings with loved-ones, gift giving and spreading good cheer applies to everyone. Above all, I love selecting a gorgeous pine tree to decorate and addressing and mailing holiday cards.
Good, affordable and just healthcare and retirement should be available to all of us, particularly as we grow older. However, it is not.
In fact, California is the only state with a law saying the gay elderly have special needs, like other members of minority groups. A new law encourages training for employees and contractors who work with the elderly and permits state financing of projects like gay senior centers.
“Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers,” (which can be found at: www.maturemarketinstitute.com under “What’s New”) is the first national survey of its kind that found more than a quarter of gay American polled (twenty-seven per cent) feared discrimination as we age. Less than half-expressed confidence that health care professionals will treat them with “dignity and respect.”
Fears of insensitive and discriminatory treatment are particularly strong among lesbians.
It has been reported that lesbians are more troubled than gay men about their financial stability as they age and report being less financially set for retirement. On the other hand, gay men are more likely (than gay women) to be concerned with being alone (43% versus 36%).
On a positive side for LGBT baby boomers (as well as for all adult gays) in April 2010, President Obama issued an historic memorandum to help ensure equal access to hospital visits and decision-making rights for same-sex couples. It is a significant step forward for the health-care rights of gay couples.
If you are a part of a same-sex couple or marriage, and want to make the most of these protections, you will need visitation forms to make certain your family and friends can visit you, as well as a health care proxy and living will. In doing so, this will ensure that those who know you the best can make medical decisions on your behalf in an emergency.
Furthermore, President Obama ordered hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid to ensure that all patients’ advance directives, which include appointing someone to make healthcare decisions if necessary, are respected.
Discover more about this important equal rights process, and to download sample forms, go to, http://www.hrc.org/issues/protect-your-visitation-and-decision-making- rights.htm
Another great resource for Gay Baby Boomers is the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network (LGAIN), which is a constituent group of the American Society on Aging. The organization raises awareness about the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders and about the unique barriers they encounter in gaining access to housing, healthcare, long-term care and other needed services.
Let us not give up, or let up, until excellent, fair and affordable healthcare is available for all baby boomers (and all Americans) alike.
Happy and healthy holidays with a fulfilling and successful New Year, filled with immense oomph and joy, for everyone!
Michael Thomas Masters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org