Student at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University says LGBT elderly face homophobia in standard retirement homes
A student in Canada wants to set up a retirement home for gay pensioners to help end alienation and loneliness among many LGBT old people.
Alex Sangha is raising $25,000 for a feasibility study on the project, which is part of his masters degree in social work at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University.
The Vancouver student told CTV news that many elderly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experience homophobia in retirement homes and are forced to go back into the closet as a result.
Sangha claims they are forced back into the closet, leading to ‘alienation, isolation and loneliness’.
Richard Sullivan, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of social work, said the problem extends beyond loneliness and is actually putting the safety of elderly members of the gay community at risk.
‘Who wants to come out again in your 70s and 80s?’ he said.
‘For fear of prejudice, [gay and lesbian people] are avoiding aggregate care to the point where they probably should be using it, where they’re no longer safe in their own home.’
Sangha adds that many gay retirees are unable to settle in Vancouver’s LGBT area because of the high cost of living there.
He said: ‘The population is aging and it’s important to develop infrastructure for the senior population and this includes all the vulnerable sectors of the population.’
Sangha added: ‘We need to [help] our elders and our seniors who have fought for years for rights for our generation to live in dignity, to live in respect and to live with compassion.’
It is not the first time a retirement home has been mooted for LGBT pensioners around the world. However, many projects have failed to get off the ground.