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June 13, 2016

Supporting LGBT Older Adults During Grief and Loss Following Orlando Attack

07-GayHands

By Sherrill Wayland, MSW

As an LGBT community, we reflect on the tragic loss of life experienced at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vigils are now being held in communities large and small, providing the LGBT community, families and friends a safe space to grieve and remember. Yet, we know many LGBT older adults are isolated and often lack the support systems that they can turn to in times of need. As a community, now is especially important time to step up to support LGBT older adults during this difficult time.

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is asking all older adult service organizations to simply reach out and offer support.  In the coming days, take time to make a visit or a personal phone call to an LGBT older adult you support and let them know you are here to listen.. The tragic murders at the LGBT nightclub may bring about a sense of trauma and anxiety for LGBT older adults who know all too well the realities of violence and discrimination due to homophobia and transphobia. As a service provider, you may provide the only safe space an LGBT older adult can turn to for support..

If you’re not sure what say, simply tell them, "I am reaching out today to let you know that I am here to listen and support you if you need to talk."

Here are additional organizations that can assist in linking LGBT older adults to community services during this time of grieving and healing:

  • The Center – LGBT Center in Orlando offering A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446 and grief counseling in the coming weeks
  • We Stand With Orlando – for a listing of events, vigils and resources
  • SAGENet – for SAGE Affiliate Chapters with local resources
  • National Resource Center on LGBT Aging – for educational resources and links for LGBT welcoming services
  • CenterLink – for list of Community Centers across the Country, many will be providing grief support and counseling
  • GLBT National Hotline – providing free and confidential peer-peer support and resources
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization

Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.

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