#LGBTEldersDay: Our LGBTQ+ Veterans & Aging

According to a 2020 Gallup survey, there are an estimated 18 million adults who identify as LGBTQ+, a 1% increase to 5.6% from 4.5% in the last post in 2017. Of those surveyed, 2.0% of Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) and 1.3% of Traditionalists (born before 1946) identify as LGBTQ+. It’s estimated that by 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 will reach 83.7 million, nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012. With those numbers in mind, it is and will continue to be vital that there are services and resources are available for our aging population.

In 2015, Nate Sweeney, head of the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care, founded Honor Our LGBT Elders Day to recognize the contributions and leadership of the older members of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2016, the center officially added May 16th to the National Day registry as National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day.

This year, the day falls on a Monday. Its mission to draw awareness to and appreciation of the lifetime of contributions made by LGBTQ+ older adults. The gains made in recent years toward LGBTQ+ equality sit squarely on the backs of those who struggles and victories, extraordinary courage and everyday authenticity pioneered the path toward freedom. National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day works to unite the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to celebrate and thank those individuals who fought on behalf of us all.

So, how can you participate in National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day today? Here are some ideas:

  • Find and like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LGBTEldersDay/.
  • Post your photos and tag #LGBTElderSelfie on Instagram
  • Share your videos on Facebook! Tag #LGBTEldersday
  • Email your stories and content to share anytime: lgbt@chasebrexton.org.
  • Download resource guides at www.lgbtelderday.org for tips on how to honor your community’s LGBT elders.
  • Engage with social media messages:
    • Celebrating LGBT elders, who through everyday authenticity or activism, have helped improve the lives of all LGBT people. #LGBTEldersDay
    • Are you part of #LGBTEldersDay? It’s a global day of recognition for LGBT Adults everywhere.
    • Save the date! #LGBTEldersDay is coming up. How will you give? • Bring Awareness, reach out, connect with LGBT Elders everywhere for #LGBTEldersDay
    • You can get involved! 5/16 is #LGBTEldersDay, it’s time to honor the #LGBTElders in your life • Join us in celebrating the contributions of our LGBT elders, who whether quietly or in the spotlight, have made a positive impact on the broader acceptance and rights our community enjoys today. #LGBTEldersDay
    • LGBTEldersDay celebrates the importance of honoring LGBT older adults and their contributions to our organizations and communities around the world.
    • National#LGBTEldersDay unifies LGBT communities, and helps the world gain knowledge of best practices for overcoming institutional obstacles as well as individual barriers to implementing LGBT programming into an organization.
    • Give time, money, and your voice to make a difference this 5/16 #LGBTEldersDay [add organization and donation link here]
    • Give time, money, and your voice – give what you can to support National LGBT Older Adults on #LGBTEldersDay
    • Join the movement; share your story and be part of #LGBTEldersDay
    • Tell your story – Make a difference this 5/16 #LGBTEldersday
  • Check out these sample tweets to get your followers engaged:
    • May 16—Join the movement; be part of #LGBTEldersDay. Visit http://Elder.lgbt for more info.
    • Show respect to our LGBT Elders. #LGBTEldersDay is a day of empowerment to raise awareness for LGBT seniors—http://elders.lgbt #ElderPride
    • Mark your calendars! 5/16 is coming soon. How will you support your #LGBTElders? Visit http://lgbtelderday.org to learn more. #LGBTEldersDay
  • Use hashtags to spread the word: NationalHonorOurLGBTEldersDay #NationalLGBTEldersDay #LGBTEldersDay #LGBTElders #LGBTElderSelfies #SeniorPride #ElderPride #ElderAdvocacy

Okay, now to the serious stuff.

LGBTQ+ Veterans & Aging

It cannot be overstated that there are knowledge gaps when it comes to LGBTQ+ Veterans especially aging LGBTQ+ Veterans. Initiatives that seek to provide for LGBTQ+ Veterans and Servicemembers often ultimately leave Veterans out in favor of providing for those currently serving. It may be due to the fact that serving the serving is perhaps more accessible than gauging the complex needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans and working to address them.

Veterans, as a whole, are a complex group comprised of men and women from different eras with varying services and experiences in addition to exposures to war and serving in strict environments for years. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more complex still as entire life experiences influence the individual with exposures to discrimination, violence, bullying, and other issues. When you overlay one group onto the other, you will find individuals with complex needs derived from both military and civilian life experience.

More specifically, LGBTQ+ Veterans are more likely to report higher rates of sexual harassment and assault, and are more vulnerable to homelessness and unemployment when compared to LGBTQ+ civilians.

Read More


Further Reading

Chaney, M.P. & Whitman, J.S. (2020). “Affirmative Wellness Counseling With Older LGBTQ+ Adults.” Journal of Mental Health Counseling 42(4): 303-322.

Cortes, J., Fletcher, T.L., Latini, D.M., and Kauth, M.R. (2019). “Mental Health Differences Between Older and Younger Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans: Evidence of Resilience.” Clinical Gerontologist 42(2): 162-171.

Hinrichs, K.L.M. & Christie, K.M. (2019). “Focus on the family: A case example of end-of-life care for an older LGBT veteran.” Clinical Gerontologist 42(2): 204-211.

Jurček, A., Downes, C., Keogh, B., Urek, M., Gheaf, G., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Buitenkamp, C., van der Vaart, N., & Higgins, A. (2020). “Educating health and social care practitioners on the experiences and needs of older LGBT+ adults: Finding from systematic review.” Journal of Nursing Management 29: 43-57.

Mankowski, Mariann. 2017. “Aging LGBT Military Service Members and Veterans.” Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics 37 (1): 111–25.

Mark, K.M., McNamara, K.A., Gribble, R., Rhead, R. Sharp, M., Stevelink, S.A.M., Schawartz, A., Castro, C., & Fear, N.T. (2019). “The health and well-being of LGBTQ serving and ex-serving personnel: a narrative review.” International Review of Psychiatry 31(1): 75-94.

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