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?

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