A new monthly support group in Sidney offers LGBTQ2+ seniors a place to share their stories and connect with others.
The group, which will be open to people 55 or older, will launch in January 2023 at St. Paul’s United Church.
The goal of the support group is to provide a safe space for LGBTQ2+ seniors to make new friends and support each other.
Edward R. Murrow Award winner James Gardner will facilitate the support group. As an advocate for the LGBTQ2+ community, Murrow has worked to raise awareness about barriers transgender individuals face.
While it is not a counselling group, Gardner said it will be a space where resources can be shared and friends can be made.
“There’s a real need for older LGBTQ people in the community to get together and share this kind of information,” he said.
While there are groups for young members of the LGBTQ2+ community, there are not many resources for older generations and the needs for older people are different from that of their younger counterparts.
“Just knowing that you’re not alone out there,” Gardner said. “There are people of our age group that are out there and I think we have needs that go beyond the younger generation.
“A lot of us are concerned about having to go into long-term care and wondering whether we are going to be respected. In a lot of cases, if we don’t have family and we go into long-term care, how are we going to be treated? I don’t know if there is that much training in long-term care facilities on how to respect LGBTQ people.”
That is just one of the things Gardner said is on his mind lately and he knows he’s not alone. He hopes this space will be a place for people to come and share their feelings, fears and experiences.
“It is inspiring to be part of a community that cares so much about creating a safe and inclusive community,” St. Paul’s minister, Rev. Cheryl Black said in a statement. “We are excited to be providing this opportunity for seniors in the LGBTQ2+ community and we are super delighted that James is leading.”
The support groups will meet on the first Saturday each month, beginning Jan. 7 at 10 a.m.
For more information visit stpaulsunitedbc.com.
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