This past Saturday I was privileged to participate as a panelist at a screening of the documentary, Gen Silent. The basic storyline was of GLBT elders who go back in the closet when they find themselves in a vulnerable position in need of healthcare assistance.
It was heartbreaking to see a husband have to put his spouse in a nursing home where they weren’t welcome. It’s bad enough to have to make that decision wondering if your loved one will be cared for. It’s a nightmare to think your loved one will be mistreated for who they are.
It’s like being a kid in school suffering from the bully. But you don’t have time for it to get better! These are life and death issues.
I’ve seen some progress in this area personally. In the 70s, my partner of 10 years was hospitalized. There was no domestic partner category then, much less marriage. I lied and said I was her sister. No one questioned me. No one ever asks for documentation if you claim to be a sibling.
Fast forward to 2003, my wife was hospitalized for heart bypass surgery. Of course, there was no marriage equality then either. But we did have domestic partnership paperwork. As it turns out, I didn’t need to prove anything. Everyone at the hospital was very supportive and caring of us as a family unit. She needed home therapy and the therapists were also very open and caring. The first experience was in Indianapolis, the second was in Bloomington.
We’re fortunate to be near a GLBT friendly community like Bloomington and even more fortunate to be involved with Spencer Pride. We’re known and respected in this community. But what of others in Owen and surrounding counties. This rural area has seemed to practice live and let live. However, I’m sure there are GLBT people out there who have kept to themselves, after all, that’s why we live in the country. What happens when they need help? Will they suffer in silence, be mistreated by healthcare workers, will they die alone?
We need to be there to look out for each other. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out. We have resources and people who can help. Don’t suffer in silence and don’t suffer alone. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 317-345-4729.
This post comes straight to you from Judi Epp, our esteemed Director & Secretary. Judi & her wife Bev live in Owen County with their dogs. This post is part of a new series entitled “Voices of Spencer Pride” where we share perspectives from our volunteers about topics that they find important. We hope that you find this post meaningful to you and if you think someone else would also find value in it, we encourage you to share it with them as well. THANK YOU!