Do LGBT Seniors Need A Room Of Their Own?

"As you get older, it just feels more comfortable to be around people who understand and share your background."

As the Stonewall generation ages, they're faced with unique challenges: Some don't have biological families to rely on as a support network.

Others worry about being mistreated in a nursing home, or just feeling isolated.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates there are three million LGBT elders in the U.S. today, and that number will only grow. In response, dozens of residences catering to queer seniors have started springing up nationwide.

In Santa Fe, the Montecito (above) is an 146-unite assisted living community for LGBT elders (though not exclusively), with all-inclusive rents ranging from $2,691 to $4,456 a month.

In Los Angeles there's Triangle Square, which is operated by the non-profit Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing and is designed specifically for low-income residents. The same is true of the John C. Anderson apartments in Philadelphia, the brainchild of longtime activist Mark Segal.

"Many of these folks have been out for a very long time and have no intent of going back in the closet," says Kimberly Acquaviva, an LGAIN co-chair and nursing educator at George Washington University. "They are looking for a place where they can be the vibrant people they've always been."

Ed Lund moved into Town Hall, an LGBT-friendly senior housing development in Chicago, last year and says it feels like home.

"As you get older, it just feels more comfortable to be around people who understand and share your background," he explains. "It's also nice not to have worry about letting something slip out."

But others worry LGBT elders will become even more invisible to the mainstream if they retreat into a gray ghetto. And how practical is LGBT-specific housing?

"[I'm] a sceptic," said Aaron Tax of SAGE, the nation's leading advocacy group for LGBT seniors. "I think it's great we have places like this, but how realistic a solution is it? They might be able to house 100 seniors, but what about everyone else?"

Indeed, when it opened there were more than 400 applicants for Town Hall, which only offers 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Below, watch a trailer for the Logo documentary Gen Silent, which addresses the aging crisis in the LGBT community.

Gen Silent debuts Monday, November 9, at 9pm on Logo.

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