Monday, January 21, 2013

The Gay-ing of the Rocking Chair: Growing Older

From my website:

One of the sentiments I hear expressed more often these days from LGBTQ couples and parents is that they look forward to “growing old” and “sitting in a rocking chair” next to their beloved. Often this is expressed by someone in his or her 20s or 30s who has just entered into a relationship, been recently wedded, or is engaged to be married or in a civil union/partnership.
He or she is also wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses squarely upon the bridge of their noses. The idyllic scene of two people rocking away on a porch of an intermediate care facility or their own home in the closing years of life is a wistful idea in the future, with little knowledge of what will go on between where they are, and where they are going.
Having been in a domestic partner relationship for 17 years (and counting), which is considered a long time in same-sex relationships, and having entered into the 50s more than a few years ago, the scene of the rocking chair or lounger is getting closer than ever. For centuries, straight couples had children in order to provide shelter and comfort in one’s waning years before there was a social security safety net. I anticipate my children helping out their mom, dad, and step-dad as we grow older.
I am also now part of the “sandwich generation”: I care for my aging mother in Oregon, while my partner and my children’s mom still care for my growing young adult children. Using the cliché term, we “pay it forward,” caring for others around us with the presumption that others will care for us in light of our caring and good deeds.
There is a growing out-and-proud LGBTQ population who are getting older. This generation includes individuals and couples, parents and grandparents. Nursing homes and care facilities that were once set up for primarily straight couples and individuals who were aging are making quick changes in their sales brochures, programs, and in training health service personnel, making such facilities more friendly and accommodating to both straight and LGBTQ couples.

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