I have no fear of death but I am absolutely terrified of becoming old and infirm. The prospect of losing my independence and finding myself in a care home horrifies me. With a bit of luck I’ll keel over dead with a heart-attack before it comes to that. The only thing that scares me more than that is to be stuck in a home surrounded by people who identify as ‘straight’. Even now, in our transformed legal world, there is a strange assumption that old people are heterosexual. Old people – we wrongly assume – do not have sex, they revert to a sexless state and thus become re-defined as heterosexual. For many, going into a home means going back into the closet.
There does seem some hope for men (why only men?) in Spain who identify as gay. The Guardian reported yesterday that a group of elderly Spanish gay men are rebelling against the homophobia of their generation by setting up what will be the country’s first gay and lesbian retirement home.
The retirement home would cost €1,000 (£834) a month to live in, he said – much lower than the average Madrid price of €1,400. It will have 30 staff to look after the 230 residents in the 120 apartments and studios in the complex, with some set aside for people who are HIV positive.
Whilst the issue of care has been back on the UK political agenda already this year, the focus – as ever – is on cost and not on the nature of provision. Hopefully as the year progresses, the issue of LGBT elders will begin to be addressed more forcefully.
Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports a growing need for – and growing development of – low-income housing for GLBTQ seniors in the USA. Philadelphia developers have secured a site for a gay-friendly, low-income housing project in Philadelphia. Housing developments cannot discriminate in favor of gay seniors, but a facility known to be gay-friendly and marketed as such will be appealing to gay seniors. You can read more on that story here on the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog.