Ageing

Last week sometime I saw a news story about gay men and women getting old and being alone. Here is  some stats to start with before I get into it. Although these are frightening statistics you will see by the end of this post that I see a positive prospective. Here are the stats:

■ 40% of gay and bisexual men over 55 are single, compared with 15% of heterosexual men.
■ 41% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 live alone compared with 28% of heterosexual people.
■ 8% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 see members of their family a few times a week compared with 21% of heterosexual people.
■ 15% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 70 work compared with 6% of heterosexual people.
■ 9% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 have taken drugs within the last year, compared with 2% of heterosexual people.

These statistics are from a recent UK survey and when you think of the social implications for a country planning the future it is important information. "This pioneering research confirms what we already knew intuitively, that there are hundreds of thousands of lesbian and gay people growing older without the same family and support structures that many straight people enjoy," said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall.

If you look at the older generation this type of situation is particularly concerning, however in saying this the question to be asked is will this be the same for future generations of older gay men and woman? In the past families were not accepting and I can see this occurring however I have to wonder whether these figures will change with new generations.

I would like to think so as I believe there is a lot more acceptance out there by families and hopefully these numbers can be reduced. In saying this though there is a large number of gay men and woman who still do not gain acceptance from their families and this is the area I am concerned about. Also I don’t believe acceptance is the only contributing factor. Gay men and woman are less likely to have children and eventually everyone’s parents will die. Gay men particularly don’t take relationships seriously and relationship hop a lot which also diminishes the chances. However..............

However, I believe things can be, and are becoming much better. It’s only a matter of time before governments have to ensure equality of rights and services and things are getting better (not quickly enough but they are). I am seeing a shift in attitudes towards relationships by gay men in particular and although we see a lot of sad behaviour amongst young gay men this group is only a minority and more and more gay men and woman are seeing relationships as something they want in their lives for the long term. They are wanting that commitment and someone to share their lives with.

The key message is that being gay doesn’t have to mean that you end up alone as you get older. It also doesn’t mean being alone is bad, if that is your choice or out of your hands. However I see a positive shift in attitudes both from outside and inside the gay ‘community’. We need to ensure that we project what we want in life and if that’s someone to share it with than it will happen. We need to fight for our rights to ensure that the government understands who we are and what we expect, being equality. We have to continue to educate our families and society in general to make sure they get the message we are valuable and deserve to be seen as equals. 

Stevie

brisbane