Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging Health Equity

Celebrating generations of LGBTQ+ people in our community

Written by Michele Dinman, MPH, project coordinator for the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health

Michele Dinman, far left, participates in a St. Louis Pride Parade with her family and community members
PRIDE flags hang along the Stonewall Inn balcony

A USA Today article reminds us of the history of Pride Month and how it honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City and the LGBTQ+ community as they continue to fight for equal rights. The Stonewall Uprising began on June 28, 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The protests that followed ignited LGBTQ+ activism in the U.S.

The first Pride marches occurred on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. In 1980, one of the first celebrations of Lesbian and Gay Pride in St. Louis was held as people marched from the Central West End to Washington University’s quadrangle. Since then, St. Louis’ PrideFest has grown in many ways and is an important community event providing people a safer place to be themselves.

During Pride Month, older people reflect on times when being gay was illegal. An article posted on SAGE’s website  explains how during the 1950s, the U.S. government “investigated employees’ sexual orientation and fired thousands of gay and lesbian employees.” Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association referred to homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance”. The article goes on to mention that as LGBTQ+ people, who have been fighting for decades for equality, are aging, services catering to them are slowly becoming more accepting and inclusive.

In 2020, the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization was signed into law with provisions by the federal Administration for Community Living, that will help older LGBTQ+ people receive services and support that they need to remain independent and improve their health outcomes. SAGE spent years working with Congress, the LGBTQ+ community, and aging organizations to pass this guidance. This law will require that state entities on aging and area agencies on aging perform outreach to older LGBTQ+ people who need services in their communities. The organizations will also be held responsible for collecting data and reporting to Congress on whether older LGBTQ+ people are getting the care that they need.

If you need resources to improve your understanding of aging in the LGBTQ+ community, or need support for yourself, a friend or family member, The National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging is the country’s only technical assistance resource center focused on improving services being offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults, their families and caregivers.

Although I am marching in the St. Louis Pride Parade on June 25 with LGBTQ+ people and allies of all ages, SAGE reminds me that Pride is more than just a parade. As an ally, Pride is about welcoming people who are LGBTQ+ into my life and community as their authentic selves and standing alongside them in their fight for rights. I hope that you will do the same. Happy Pride Month!