Founded in 2014 by a coalition of aging services providers, professionals and LGBT older adults, we work to enhance the lives of LGBT seniors by fostering community, advocating for social change and providing services.
Our Principles of Service
- Preserving Dignity: We value the unique life experiences of every senior.
- Building Community: We provide opportunities for social interaction through education, programming and activities.
- Celebrating Individuality: We recognize that each person has a unique life story.
Rogue Rainbow Elder’s mission is to promote improved quality of life for LGBT seniors through advocacy, education and services.
Our Goals and Programs
- Our monthly social in Medford is open to all LGBT community members and allies, listed on our Community Calendar . Community members may also submit events of interest to our Community Calendar. Our Facebook page and our digital news show events of interest in Southern Oregon. We aspire to highlight existing services and to identify unmet needs of aging LGBT individuals.
To sign up for our newsletter, send us your name and email via RogueRainbowElders@gmail.com.
- Rogue Rainbow Elders collaborates with other local organizations that serve LGBT individuals to create strong partnerships designed to improve the quality of life for all LGBT persons. We hope to become an affiliate chapter of the national organization, SAGE (Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders, SAGEUSA.org.
- We offer LGBT sensitivity training for local medical service providers, including physicians, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, since LGBT elders are often subjected to discrimination in institutional settings.
- We plan to establish a Friendly Visitor program. Many senior LGBT community members are isolated and would welcome a friendly face. We will recruit and train volunteers and provide a way for elders to contact us to schedule a visit. Stay tuned to our newsletter, our Facebook page.
LGBT older adults face challenges that their heterosexual counterparts do not, including:
- Unequal treatment under laws, programs and services
- Effects of historic and present day social stigma and prejudice
- Increased reliance on informal “families of choice” for social connection, care and support
These challenges make it more difficult for LGBT older adults to achieve key components of healthy aging: financial security, quality health care, community support and involvement.
- By 2030 it is estimated there will be 7 million LGBT older adults reaching retirement age.
- Roughly 80% of long term care in the U.S. is provided by family members. LGBT older adults are half as likely as their heterosexual peers to have relatives they can rely on.
- 73% of LGBT older adults believe discrimination occurs in retirement facilities. The documentary GenSilent shows how discrimination affects LGBT seniors.
- 60% of LGBT older adults believe they will not have the same access to senior housing options as heterosexual seniors.
How We Began
That Fought Hardest
to Come Out
is Going Back In
In late summer of 2013, the documentary titled “Gen Silent” was shown in Medford. It triggered an awareness of the lack of services for the aging LGBT community in our area. In response, Julian Spalding and Fanda Bender taught an OLLI course on LGBT issues that reinforced the awareness of the lack of services and programs for the senior LGBT populaltion. The need for diversity education for the public and care facilities was apparent. Bullying of LGBT older adults is common in many assisted living facilities.
Julian and Fanda contacted SAGE Metro Portland and were invited to Portland to learn about the services available to LGBT elders there. At one assised living facility, staff received diversity training and residents were educated on sensitivity to homophobia. They also met with LGBT leaders and allies in the Portland community, including Bandana Shrestha, Director Community Engagement, AARP Oregon, who stressed that Oregon’s AARP wants to support efforts to provide education, programs and services for LGBT elders. AARP Oregon’s mission is to develop membership in rural communities with diverse populations. The Rogue Valley is on their radar. Some members of the statewide Diversity Council reside in southern Oregon.
Julian and Fanda met with the Social Justice Committee of the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship who offered their venue to show “Gen Silent in Ashlnd. Of the 100 attendees, a group of 15 responded to a call to form a steering committee which eventually became Rogue Rainbow Elders. The RVUUV later agreed to sponsor a monthly potluck social.
© 2017 Rogue Rainbow Elders.