Langley social group set up to provide inclusivity for LGBTQ2 seniors

The first meeting is slated for Monday, Jan. 22.

A grassroots group is forming to provide social opportunities for LGBTQ2 seniors in the community.

The social group Seniors of Langley for those 55 and older who are are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or two-spirited is being created. (Two spirited is a gender identity term for a person who considers themselves both male and female.)

“There is no organization per se that is responsible for setting up SOL [Seniors of Langley],” explained Susan Higginbotham. ‘It has rather evolved at the grass roots level initiated by a conversation at LINC [Langley Integrated Network Care) meeting that I attended. SOL was formed in partnership with LSCAT [Langley Seniors Community Action Table] and LDFP [Langley Division of Family Practice].

Higginbotham will serve as the co-ordinator or facilitator but it will be up to the members to make the key decisions about the group and what it does.

“A guiding principle for the group will be group discussion, group consensus, group decision-making regarding the forming of SOL, membership, activities, etc.,” she explained.

The first meeting is at 12 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22 in the Timms Community Centre. The group is open to all who are 55 and older but not restricted to people are are LGBTQ2.

“One does not have to have ‘come out’,” Higginbotham noted.

But the social group will be an accepting atmosphere.

“The first meeting will primarily be a Meet and Greet,” she explained. “The most important aspect is to provide a warm, accepting, safe and secure environment.”

Life for older people who are LGBTQ2 was very different than for young people.

“So many seniors were never able to live who they truly were for fear of isolation, alienation, bullying, being targeted with inflammatory accusatory language, being pathologized or being charged as having committed a criminal act,” she noted.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969 and removed from the American Psychiatric Association list of mental illnesses in 1973.

Since 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has guaranteed equality of racial, sexual, mental and physical disability rights, the charter did not include equality of rights to lesbians and gays, but it did not include equality rights for lesbians and gays.

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