Even hot young hunks grow old.
It won’t be for a few years yet for me, but a lot of people my age and of my orientation are beginning to wonder what life will be like in retirement.
Despite the stereotype of the affluent gay, more LGBT seniors live in poverty than their straight counterparts. Half reach retirement with only $10,000 in the bank. They are far less likely than younger gays to be partnered or married. They’re more likely to be childless and estranged from their birth families, leaving them to weather the challenges of retirement alone. Even those with long-term partners are at a disadvantage, despite recent legal breakthroughs. In June, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, putting some gay couples on equal legal footing with straight couples for the first time, but that’s little help to older gay couples who have missed out on decades’ worth of tax and insurance breaks.
All those factors leave queer seniors with fewer retirement options than their straight counterparts. Without the social support or financial means to ensure independence, they often become separated from their gay communities and “families of choice.” Whether they rely on home-care workers or move into assisted-living facilities paid for by Medicaid, they often encounter staff and residents who are not comfortable with gay people. Fearful of mistreatment, many feel compelled to go back into the closet-—particularly painful for members of the generation that invented the politics of coming out. For those who aren’t lucky enough to settle down in a place like Carefree Cove, the golden years can still look a lot like the pre-Stonewall years.
I had recent occasion to visit a local retirement community on behalf of people who were looking in to moving there. One of the questions I asked was if they allowed same-sex couples. I am happy to report that they said yes, and even pointed several out to me. But even if they do, a lot of elderly gay people — partnered or not — may face issues in their later years that straight people don’t.
Something to think about and plan for.