Saturday, September 18, 2010

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

Today, September 18, we remember and speak about the older men, women, and transgenders living with HIV/AIDS. For one day, or even for a few minutes, let’s make them visible. As the National Institutes of Health’s statement notes, this population group is growing and its health challenges are mounting –although we still know very little about the implications of aging with HIV/AIDS and the medical treatments.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sharing and making visible our stories

Gen Silent is a new documentary film on the difficulties senior lesbian, gay, and transgender people are facing to address their basic health needs. This is about discrimination and silence in old age. Thanks to Stu Maddux for creating another powerful and moving film. We need to get these stories out in the big and small screen, the cyberworld, the press, and in our dining tables.

Come and support the film when it comes to your city. Check the website for updates.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

From the Ashes Risen

Take a look at this trailer and learn about this documentary project by Tribal Elder Productions. This is a unique and needed effort to collect testimonials of older gay men who have survived HIV and AIDS. The stories in the trailer are sad. You can see and hear the grieving as they cry and recount the stories of their lost friends and lovers. And there are some details that tell us about our efforts to maintain a collective memory, a history, in the face of possible extinction. For example, some men kept a list of those how had died. Others still keep their personal address book, marking those who have passed away.

The story of the AIDS epidemic remains unresolved. Not only are people still getting infected, but also we, gay men, are still struggling with guilt, the morality of HIV/AIDS, the courage and hope we once had, grief, and bigotry.

Thanks to Roger Goodman and his team for undertaking this task.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Whiteness of Aging

If you were to stop by a LGBT aging organization, group, or event, I bet you’d think all older LGBT are Caucasian. African American and Latinos, apparently, do not age or don’t not get to reach old age. I am exaggerating a little, but the general conclusion holds. You might find a couple of African American lesbian women and perhaps one African American older gay man. That’s all.

A few days ago, I attended a reception to announce the launch of a major program, at both the local and national levels, for older LGBT. I, not yet an older gay man, was the only brown person in the room. There were no African Americans, males or females. And nobody raises the issue or questions it. That’s what I would call the status quo and the invisibility of large sectors of our society.

I am not blaming organizations or groups. There are a few individuals in those organizations concerned about the lack of ethnic minorities in their membership. This is a reality many of us are dealing with and trying to figure out. In my own research, I have trouble finding older gay men who are African American of Latin American descent. I can’t find them.

Where do they live? With their families of origin? Where do they socialize? Do they think of themselves as gay or bisexual men? Does their gay/bi identity matter to them?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Older adults face the loss of love ones, siblings, friends, and neighbors in much higher frequency than other adults. Death and grieving are part of the experience of growing old. Yet, this might not be true for older gay men (and lesbian and transgenders). Gayby boomers have had their share of grieving before reaching old age. When they were young --in their 30s and 40s-- they lost partners, boyfriends, friends, and members of their communities to HIV. Their youth and adult lives were defined by HIV and AIDS. Many of them are still grieving. The grief is personal – as when one’s partner dies—and is communal because scores of gay men were killed.

Or perhaps the early familiarity with death has provided gayby boomers with resources to better deal with death in their older years?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Senior Moment

This was the first time I attended a social or support group for older GLBT folks. In a typical fashion, we sit around the room in a circle. The majority were men (and white). There were a few lesbian women. I was not formally introduced. Instead, I introduced myself as we were going around the group stating our names and a reason to be thankful for today. “I’m thankful for my health.” “I’m thankful for standing vertical.” “I’m thankful for the bright sunny day.” Indeed, it was a warm and clear spring afternoon. The sunlight filled the room through the wide windows.

Everybody seemed cheerful and in good spirits. They smiled, joked, and teased each other. I was not nervous or anxious. I felt at home. In a kind and tranquil space. This is not the first time I interacted with older folk, gay or straight. In fact, an astrological reading once told me I was an “old soul.” When I was in fourth grade, back in Mexico, I’d frequently spend recess with an older teacher, a woman in her late sixties, who had taught me the year before. She used to remind us that she was chewing gum because she was ill. It was medicinal gum. We shouldn’t be chewing gum. In my late teens I related better with my friends’ parents than with my friends. Later, when I came out as a gay man, in my mid- twenties, my best gay friends were much older than me. My first long term boyfriend was seventeen years older than me. In my thirties, I started socializing with a group of older gay men, mostly from the suburbs of Chicago. My friend Norm introduced me to a group called “Imagine.” Most of the members were white, older than fifty-five, well off, and conservative –except for my friend Norman who is fairly progressive. I have gravitated around older folks for a long time.

Back at the group -- the conversation, while at times seemed random, centered on three related issues: health, identity, and stigma. As they shared their thoughts it was clear that health issues are a daily concern and in the forefront of the lives of these gayby boomers. Illness is a major threat. As an older gentleman (perhaps in his eighties) stated, “I’m thankful that I’m still in good health.”

The people in the group come together as gay, lesbian, and transgender, not only as seniors. So they talked about their frequent invisibility in both the larger society and the gay community. They evoked Rock Hudson as a gay man who lived a life as a heterosexual man in the screen. Then they talk about the immediate reality of facing living alone or living in assisted living housing and depending on senior centers: “We’re going to be living with the same bigots who hated as when we were younger,” a woman emphatically spoke. She urged the group to directly confront homophobia in those spaces. Others in the group did not want to be so outspoken. They did not want to directly present themselves as GLBT people. This is a long-lasting dilemma for many of us.

I left the meeting with joy, but thinking: where are the gayby boomers of color? Where are the Latino and Black guys? Why they are not around here? I’m sure there are somewhere in the city! I’m also wondering if what I have been learning about the gayby generation reflects the lives of Black and Latino gayby boomers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How it all started

The title of this blog, Gayby Boomers, refers to a new research endeavor on the lives of older gay men. This concept begin in the Fall of 2009, when I was a fellow at the Great Cities Institute of the University of Illinois of Chicago ( My intent is to use it as a means to share my thoughts and research and to hear from others interested in the topic.