Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition is gearing up to launch a new behavioral health and wellness clinic; a much-needed addition to Lancaster’s healthcare community! Here’s some more information about the partnerships we’re forging and the health resources we’re planning to have on-site:
In partnership with Touchstone Foundation, we have the opportunity to offer therapy on a sliding scale. Funds will go directly to the clinician.
Valley Youth House will offer case management and housing services for LGBTQ+ youth up to age 24 one day per week!
We’re also thrilled to begin offering free walk-in rapid HIV testing provided by Alder Health starting September 18th! Walk-in testing will be available from 2-6pm. From then on, we will continue to offer walk-in testing on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month:
October 2nd and 16th
November 6th and 20th
December 4th and 18th
In partnership with Family Health Council, we will launch our Sexual Health and Wellness Program starting with our Prep program. The Prep program will focus on health education and outreach for LGBTQ+ teens.
Finally, In partnership with AARP we will host a “Coffee and Conversation” series! Join us July 30th for Death Cafe: discussion around end of life planning and presentation from Melissa Ressler, Death Doula and ED of Lancaster Downtowners. Stay tuned for more info soon!
The mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors is a subject that warrants particular attention, considering the unique challenges this group faces. An understanding of these nuances is crucial to building supportive communities and healthcare systems that genuinely meet their needs.
The Unique Mental Health Impact of Aging in LGBT Seniors
Aging is an inevitable process accompanied by physiological, psychological, and social changes. For LGBT seniors, the complexities of this process can be exacerbated by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Compared to their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT seniors may face increased mental health issues, often stemming from a lifetime of discrimination, stigma, and rejection.
Research has consistently shown higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among LGBT individuals, with these issues persisting into old age. Factors such as the lack of social support, the fear of coming out, and living with an identity that society often marginalizes can create a toxic mix that threatens the mental well-being of LGBT seniors.
The Role of Identity, Stigma, and Discrimination
It is undeniable that identity, stigma, and discrimination play significant roles in the mental health of aging LGBT individuals. Many seniors have lived through eras where non-heteronormative identities were not only socially stigmatized but also criminalized. This historical context has a profound impact on mental health, increasing the risk of mood disorders and suicidal ideation.
For seniors who come out later in life, the psychological impact can be even more significant. The process of self-acceptance and disclosure can be immensely stressful, particularly when fearing rejection from established social circles. As a result, these seniors may experience heightened levels of anxiety and depression.
The Shadows of Historical Trauma
Many LGBT seniors have not only battled personal trials but also navigated shared historical traumas. Events like the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s disproportionately affected the LGBT community. The weight of such events, coupled with societal stigmatization, could leave lasting scars, increasing the likelihood of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions in LGBT seniors.
Loneliness and Social Isolation
LGBT seniors may experience heightened social isolation or loneliness, which are key risk factors for mental health problems. Some may not have children or may be estranged from their families due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, seniors who are not openly out might withdraw from social activities due to fear of rejection or misunderstanding. These factors can lead to increased feelings of isolation and depression.
Building a Better Mental Health Support System for LGBT Seniors
Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts to improve mental health services for LGBT seniors. Healthcare professionals need to possess cultural competence and understand the unique experiences of these individuals to provide effective support. Therapy groups, peer support networks, and community centers could serve as safe spaces for LGBT seniors to express their feelings and experiences, thereby fostering a sense of belonging.
Moreover, societal acceptance is a key factor in improving the mental health outcomes of LGBT seniors. As a society, we must work towards a culture that not only tolerates but embraces diversity in all its forms.
LGBT seniors’ mental health is shaped by a confluence of factors, including historical traumas, societal attitudes, and individual experiences. As they navigate the aging process, it’s imperative that we provide them with the necessary support and resources. Empathy, understanding, and societal acceptance can make a significant difference, ensuring LGBT seniors age with dignity and peace of mind.
A Concrete Rose and Blazin’ J’s are throwing the Coalition a fundraising party and we’d love to see you there! Stop by Blazin’ J’s on Monday, June 26th between 5-7:30 PM to grab a limited-edition tee shirt, margarita, and sandwich meal benefitting Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition!
The full package includes a limited-edition Flamin’ tee shirt featuring design elements from our recent STARDUST RHAPSODY event, a meal with a Clucking Fabulous Sandwich, fries, and lemonade, and a limited-edition Fuego de la Vida Margarita!
Can’t make the fundraiser but still want to support the Coalition? No worries! You can always donate to the Coalition at lgbtlancaster.org/donate to help fund our programming, HEART housing, events, and other work benefitting Lancaster’s LGBTQ+ community!
A “zine” (pronounced “ZEEN,” often short for “fanzine”) is a small, pamphlet-like, independently produced and published printed work. A zine can include text, images, artwork, found objects, or any creative material that helps to express the author’s message. Anyone can be a zinester (aka someone who creates a zine), and generally zinesters create zines for the love of the work rather than for seeking a profit.
Swing by The Loop anytime between 5:30-8:30 June 21st for instruction, inspiration, and invigorating conversation! Learn how to design, create, print, and distribute your own zines! Gain a familiarity with the role of the zine in Queer history!
K is our co-founder and executive director, and has overseen the launch of the Homelessness Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) program in February 2021 and the Loop community hub in June 2022. Our latest initiatives include an emergency overnight clinic and a behavioral health and wellness program with pop-up clinics in partnership with Planned Parenthood and Alder Health.
City & State’s Pride Power 100 – compiled by freelance writer Jeremy Rodriguez – recognizes the people in the state who are making strides to create safe spaces and remove the limits for current and future generations.
A Youth Action Board (YAB) is made up of youth and young adults who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness. These groups provide leadership and guidance in partnership with adults and directors who lead services in the community to end youth and young adult homelessness in Lancaster County.
Are you between 18-24, and have experience with housing insecurity? Want to advocate in Lancaster and make some coin? Join the Youth Action Board!
Register now to join the YAB at The Candy Factory at 342 N. Queen Street on Wednesday, June 14th from 3-6 PM! Food and compensation will be provided: $25/hr for your time.
Pride Poetry is an all-ages poetry open-mic community event featuring BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists. Join Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition and Lancaster Changemakers on June 15th for an evening of poetry with 3 featured poets, including Poet Laureate of Lancaster Evita Colon!