The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

The Lavender Tsunami

Joseph Wheeler

It is estimated that by year 2030, one of every five residents in the US will be over age 65. Best estimates are that just under 4% of residents in the US and in North Carolina identify as LGBTQ. We represent a large block of people who will be experiencing all the aspects of aging, and many of us will require services. Yet we know that LGBTQ elders are much less likely to seek services and are less likely to find sensitivity to our concerns.

The presentation will center around research conducted by SAGE USA and by AARP that demonstrates, when compared to a heterosexual cohort, LGBTQ seniors experience health disparity, are more likely to be isolated, often have more fragile support networks, and have higher levels of concerns related to our aging (for a May 14 USA Today article on bullying in senior centers, click here). In all of this we have also demonstrate the capacity to be resilient.

All of this speaks to the importance of our work for SAGE, including programs to counter social isolation, education for service providers to provide welcoming environments, and advocacy for equitable treatment. We will discuss why it is important for seniors to have organizations like Mary Renault Society and SAGE. We will also consider some of the local services that have demonstrated sensitivity to LGBTQ issues and discuss how they can be accessed.

Joseph Wheeler has for almost 30 years been a successful consultant focusing on diversity and inclusion, leadership and communication skills, and strategic organizational development. In recent years he has dedicated his work to understanding LGBTQ aging issues. July 2017, he became the Coordinator of SAGE Raleigh, a program of the LGBT Center of Raleigh for people 50+.

That organization maintains a robust schedule of activities and events, advocates for LGBTQ aging services, and educates service providers about LGBTQ issues. While his presentation includes a great deal of data, his style lends to creating a discussion about interests and concerns among group members.

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