A joint effort by AARP CT, the Connecticut Community Foundation and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn Waterbury gathered over 30 attendees to watch the screening of Gen Silent, a documentary about the challenges the LGBTQ aging community often faces.
Screened on the UConn Waterbury campus on May 3, the 70-minute movie shows the disparity in the quality of paid caregiving—from facilities where the staff is committed to making their LGBTQ residents feel safe and happy to places where LGBTQ elders are discriminated against and often bullied by other residents.
“The younger people who attended seemed to particularly benefit from learning about the history and perspective on these issues. While progress has been made, LGBT people may still face difficulties when interacting with health care providers,” said Deborah Stein, Connecticut Community Foundation Senior Services Program Officer.
According to Stein, the Connecticut Community Foundation works to help all residents in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills build rewarding lives. “The screening of Gen Silent aimed to highlight the unique challenges that often confront lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as they age.”
Gen Silent also spotlights people who are trying to change LGBTQ aging for the better.
“We were quite pleased by the turn-out, and thankful for the meaningful discussion surrounding some issues faced by the aging LGBTQ+ community — issues that are so often not talked about enough,” shared Jenna Ryan, Osher’s Coordinator. “As an Osher Institute, we serve adult learners aged 50 and up, so it is important to us that we make time for such conversations that could be pertinent to our members.”
The Gen Silent screening is one among many initiatives AARP CT has co-sponsored.
In 2017, the Hispanic Federation (HF), the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization, launched FUERZAfest Connecticut, the first-ever Latino LGBTQ arts festival with the theme “Breaking Down Walls,” which not only celebrated a vibrant community, but addressed critical issues impacting it.
AARP CT supported the initiative by sharing HF State Director Ingrid Alvarez’s blogging debut, inviting the community to join LGBTQ members, straight allies, community leaders and artists for a two-day celebration of LGBTQ Latino culture with films, workshops, panel discussions, networking events and a one-act theater showcase.
“There has been an alarming rise in homophobia and xenophobia as a result of the hateful narrative in our national political culture,” said Mario Colón, Assistant Vice President of Special Events for Hispanic Federation and Director of FUERZAfest. “Being a Latinx LGBTQ person in the United States can be scary, especially after the Pulse tragedy in Orlando. That’s why now, more than ever, we need to revisit how our communities respond to and resist these threats.”
According to AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan, Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families was developed by AARP to help make the job more manageable: “It includes information on how to have vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one’s needs and locate important resources. A planning guide for caregivers in the LGBT Community is also available at our website.”
To download the guide, please visit https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/prepare-to-care-planning-guide/.
The Connecticut Community Foundation has a special philanthropic fund that allows the organization to make grants, provide technical assistance and educate the public on issues facing older adults and helping them age well in their homes and communities.
“We believe that philanthropy can be part of the solution. People interested in starting a fund at Connecticut Community Foundation to address the needs of LGBT people or any issues affecting older people in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills can learn more at conncf.org/create-a-fund,” concluded Stein.