October was LGBTQ History Month, and it gave those of us who work at Bayview a chance to reflect on the changes we’ve seen at this senior living community over the years.
When I first started working at Bayview back in 2001, one would have thought we had no LGBT residents living among us, be it in independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing (we had no dedicated Memory Care unit back then). Those of us that worked here slowly learned over time that in fact we had several LGBT residents, but none of them would have shared that with the general community. Some residents would share with me in whispered tones, after they felt they could trust that it wouldn’t get back to anyone.
Crazy to think about that now! But back then, many of our residents were coming of age in the 1920s and 1930s and this was not exactly socially acceptable. Sure, we had female couples who shared apartments, but they were only ever referred to as friends. Never as partners, and certainly never as spouses.
Fast forward to today, and we have a growing community of LGBT residents, some are married to same sex partners, some are single, but most proudly identify as LGBT. In fact, at last count approximately 10% of our residents identify as LGBT.
For any older adult, finding a supportive community is important, especially as family members move away, partners and loved ones pass, and social worlds get smaller. This can hit our LGBT elders even harder if they have no children or family or a support community to provide that human connection. It is critical for senior living communities like Bayview to provide that safe and supportive environment for our LGBT elders as they age. Bayview has taken that one step further and became platinum Sagecare certified. Sagecare provides LGBTQ+ aging cultural competency training. It’s through our training that we learned to drop the “Q” as many folks from older generations have different connotations of “queer” than today’s LGBTQ youth and adults.
As nearly 30 years have passed since the establishment of LGBT History Month, we at Bayview join other individuals and organizations to pay tribute to those who fought for equality and acceptance and paved a path forward for us all.
Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview in Queen Anne.