Over the last year, we embarked on a project to determine people’s attitudes to age and ageing in the queer community.
In our last issue, you will have read about the discussions held at the ‘long table’ event at the Outburst Queer Arts Festival and interviews with a cross-section of members of our community. Off the back of that, with the support of The Community Foundation for Ireland, we launched a survey to dig a little deeper. Thanks to the 500+ of you that took the time to take part.
What do people consider to be old? Have they thought about old age? Should there be specific supports for the LGBTQ+ community as we all age? You will read elsewhere in this edition about an important change in the law around who we can nominate as our ‘next of kin’. This survey was open to everyone across the island of Ireland, and to all ages. We received answers from right across the spectrum of our community, and these were some of the findings:
Firstly, we asked respondants the question ‘How often do you engage with the LGBTQ+ Community?’ Here’s what they had to say: 32% Always /weekly/fortnightly 19% Usually/Monthly 24% Sometimes /Every few months 21% Rarely/Once or twice a week and 4% Never
I am more concerned with quality of living for everyone. Sometimes I fear that people might have a religious ceremony for/around me but this predates my non heterosexual self-confirmation and possibly demonstrates my desire for control beyond my living.
When we hit our 70’s is when 42% of people asked thought we reach old age, with 20% saying it was in our 60’s, and even a few saying old age started in our 30’s!
In terms of life expectancy, most respondents expected to live into their 80’s.
The majority of people said they could relate to people in a different age bracket to themselves, but it was pretty much a three-way tie on whether people are in, or would consider, a relationship with a big age gap:
I’m trans, none of my work colleagues, almost none of my family and almost none of my friends who know the real me will mourn my true self.
46% of respondents said that they always or usually socialised with people not in their own age group, with 43% saying they sometimes did. However, 52% of people said there needed to be more facilities or opportunities to mix socially, especially for people living outside the main urban centres.
Very important to plan accepting inclusive services for LGBTQ+ people of every age including older people.
40% of our respondents had attended the wake, removal, funeral or remembrance event of an LGBTQ+ friend or family member in the last five years, with 57% saying that the funeral or service recognised and celebrated the identity of their friend or family member.
22% of people said they were “dreading” being old, while 34% were “excited” about retiring from work.
When asked do you agree with this statement - “Irish queer culture has a positive view of getting older,” over 55% said they disagreed.
As I get older myself, I am concerned that I will be less relevant, less visible and less welcome in my community. Access to age-friendly services, community groups and events will be vital to living and dying well as an ageing queer Irish person.