It certainly is a big deal, and we’re part of it. Those are my thoughts on the train as some of us from the dmhFund head to Washington, D.C. for the first-ever LGBT elder-housing summit organized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This conference will bring together representatives from most of the leading LGBT elder-housing projects from around the nation. We at dmhFund will unveil full details of our project at this conference. And that brings us a sense of pride in both our efforts and also our city’s since it seems that this project, if all goes well, is next out of the pipeline. And that is something for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania to take great pride in. So heading to D.C., we’re proud of our community for the progress made over the years that really made this possible. And it is one of the gems we’ll be sharing with our counterparts from around the nation.
Our presentation is meant to show others how to get this kind of project off the ground. Our model is simple. Follow the lead of other successful communities that have built similar elder-living facilities. Are we any different than the Catholic community and its Catholic Charities, the Jewish community and its Jewish Federation or even the Presbyterian homes? We pay tax dollars like others, and we deserve the same treatment for our seniors. It’s called equality. One more point: Our seniors are in need and presently suffer from major discrimination.
This has become more personal for me as many of those seniors have reached out to me. A lesbian couple who were not allowed to live together. Another lesbian who no longer goes to the community room in her building since, each time she does, people stand around her and try to pray the gay away… and it’s not even a religious-sponsored senior building.
While we don’t know if we’ll get final approval, we know that we’ve pioneered the field.
My first column on this project was titled “Pie in the sky project.” Well, it no longer is. It is becoming a reality nationwide and we’re one of the leaders bringing security and community to LGBT seniors.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at [email protected].