Older people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender can often fall in the gaps of misrepresentation, or even not be represented at all, in current media and mainstream culture. This is the premise that led Bristol Ageing Better to create a space for older LGBT people to take the stage at the Watershed and share their stories on Tuesday 28th February in celebration of LGBT History Month.
“At Bristol Ageing Better, we have acknowledged that many activities and groups don’t take into account a growing older LGBT population, and its cultural and social needs, while the LGBT community, in many cases, caters for a much younger audience”, said Adam Rees BAB Director. “These gaps can often make people feel isolated and lonely, and we are inviting organisations to support communities to fill those gaps through our Community Development for Older People project.”
The event LGBT & Ageing: A Story Telling Night welcomed 5 speakers who shared stories from their lives, their views on the concept of LGBT and their experiences of growing older in Bristol.
Colin shared his life story and his experience of ‘coming out’ later in life and how gradually he found friendship, love and comfort in local activities, leading him to become the Chair of the very organisation that welcomed him at a Rainbow Café only a few years back.
Margaret gave an engaging talk, telling her story of how a health crisis while hiking in Turkey led to a decision to retire from her job as a university lecturer, and how writing inquiry was helping her rediscover community and revisit her experiences from the perspective of a lesbian feminist.
John presented the audience with an ode to volunteering and how actively getting involved in the community and helping others has given him reassurance and a sense of purpose in later life, while befriending great people.
Elaine felt uprooted and lonely when she moved to Bristol, aged 59, but when she started living as her ‘real self’ she felt at home. But who is Elaine? A lesbian feminist fighting against patriarchy, campaigning and advocating for women and girls. At 70, she still wants to change the world.
‘I’ve always been Cathy’, was one of the opening statements of this captivating speaker. Cathy realised at the age of 6 that she was a very different kind of girl and very early in life made the decision to sacrifice her personal happiness for that of those she loves the most.
We will be sharing the stories told on the night on a podcast format through our website and social media, please make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, so you don’t miss these out.
On the same day, BAB launched an Invitation to Tender for their Community Development for Older People – Communities of Interest LGBT project. Through research conducted by the University of the West of England (UWE), the programme identified that there are serious issues of loneliness and isolation amongst LGBT older people and there is little evidence of previous focusses of local organisations on older LGBT people.
It is acknowledged that LGBT isn’t one homogenous group, but a number of smaller groups of people. The aim for this project would be to develop a model where organisations and existing groups would provide support to isolated and lonely individuals, and that would able to set up groups and activities where there is a need for them.
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