Tag Archives: lgbt seniors

Los Angeles acts to expand affordable housing for LGBT seniors

The nation’s first LGBT-friendly affordable senior housing provider recently announced plans for its latest 40-unit development, Argyle Apartments.

The project, according to a news release, will serve an LGBT senior population and be built at Hollywood and Western, a metro stop from Triangle Square, another LGBT-friendly housing community by the Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing Los Angeles Corporation.

“Just 70 months ago, on March 22, 2007, we opened our doors at Triangle Square to the nation’s first LGBT-friendly affordable senior housing development that has been a beacon of hope and acceptance around the world,” stated executive director Eric Harrison. “Today, our partnership with AMCAL expands GLEH’s footprint in our home district of Hollywood to more individuals seeking affordablehousing in an LGBT friendly environment.”

The $17.5 million Argyle Apartments project is a partnership of GLEH Los Angeles Corporation and AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc.

The project will be funded through California Redevelopment Agency, JP Morgan Chase and low-income housing tax credits.

“Seeing Triangle Square become a reality in 2007 was a dream come true for those of us who stand up for tolerance, understanding and equality,” said Los Angeles Council Member Eric Garcetti. “I applaud the partnership between the Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing Los Angeles Corporation and AMCAL for expanding LGBT friendly affordable housing in Los Angeles and revitalizing the community.”

A news release said Argyle Apartments will feature a community room with kitchenette and lounge, landscaped common area with barbecue grills, children’s play structure and an outdoor seating. The apartments are scheduled to open in about a year.

Does your community have LGBT-friendly affordable opportunities or are any in the planning stages? Share with WiG readers in the comments section below.

Philly developers plan groundbreaking for LGBT senior housing

Developers plan to break ground next month on a $20 million affordable housing project for elderly gays now that it has received the necessary state, federal and local approvals and funding has been secured, officials said this week.

The project, planned for a section of Philadelphia’s downtown affectionately known as the Gayborhood, had long been stalled before receiving tax credits earlier this year from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, which is spearheading the project, said in a statement that the project has received all federal, state, and local agency approvals and building permits, and plans to break ground in late October.

Wells Fargo Bank also has signed on as an investor, tax credits have been allocated and all funding for the project has been secured, the group said.

The new six-story building, which will be on land bought from the city’s Redevelopment Authority, will include 56 one-bedroom units that will be available to seniors who are 62 and over.

“The project is moving forward very quickly,” Mark Segal, the group’s director and also publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, said in a statement. “The Redevelopment Authority vacated the building they were operating out of on the construction site, and clean up and plans for demolition of the building have begun.”

Anti-discrimination laws prohibit gay-only housing, but projects can be made friendly toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people through marketing and location. The nation’s first gay-friendly affordable senior housing facility opened in Los Angeles in 2007.

Experts say the need for such housing is great since many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors fear discrimination or disrespect by health care workers and elder housing residents.

On the Web…


LGBT seniors come out late, start second lifetime

MIAMI (AP) — On his 75th birthday, Bill Farthing decided to be reborn. In the six years since he’d buried his wife of 45 years, he’d felt as he did long before: Lonesome, different, outcast. He wondered if he was going crazy; he contemplated suicide.

Looking back, the clues leading to this day had been scattered throughout his life, but only made sense just now.

So Farthing dressed in the most basic of blue wool skirt suits he could find on the Internet, with a white blouse and low-heeled, open-toed white shoes, and went shopping. Arms loaded with skirts and blouses from the clearance rack, Farthing approached the checkout.

“Did you find everything you wanted, ma’am?” the cashier asked.

Farthing looked over his shoulder, then realized she was talking to him. He had pulled it off.

He had become a she.


Increased awareness and acceptance of varied sexualities and gender identities has led Americans to come out far younger, as early as middle school. A less noticed but parallel shift is happening at the other end of the age spectrum, with people in their 60s, 70s and 80s coming to terms with the truth that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

While no one tracks the numbers of the elderly who come out, those who work with older adults say the trend is undeniable, and a resulting network of support groups and services has cropped up.

The decision can fracture lifelong relationships. Or it can bring the long-sought relief of an unloaded secret.

“For the first time in my life, I’m not putting on a show,” said Farthing, who eventually had sexual reassignment surgery and changed her first name to Chrissie. “It seems like I’ve been out on a cloud all my life and now I’m not. I’m me.”

Outing yourself late in life can be complicated after having lived through times when being openly gay could get you arrested, put in an institution and given shock treatments. It’s snarled in a lifetime of trudging along through society’s view of normalcy and the resulting fear of being ostracized by children and grandchildren. And it’s marked by a nagging doubt that all the heartache, all the potential for it to go wrong, may not be worth it with one’s years numbered.

“When somebody comes out at the age of 20, they have their whole life ahead of them,” said Karen Taylor, the director of training and advocacy for SAGE, a national group that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors. “There’s a real sense of regret and loss for somebody who comes out later in life, even when talking to them and they say the decision was the right one.”

Still, many seniors have felt empowered by the growing presence of gays and lesbians in pop culture and some high-profile, late-in-life outings. Among the most notable, “Family Ties” star Meredith Baxter came out in December at 62; Richard Chamberlain, long the target of rumors, came out in 2003 at 69, decades after the height of his career as a TV heartthrob.

Those who’ve mustered the gumption to out themselves say they feel as if they’ve been given a second chance.

Carl Martin, 83, of Falls Church, Virginia, came out as gay not long after his wife died in 1997. He says he was happy in his marriage but had known of his feelings for men since he was in high school and revealed an unrequited crush to a friend. Coming out, he says, has changed him from a withdrawn, tense, reticent bystander to a vibrant social butterfly who even talks to strangers in the supermarket.

“I would describe these as the happiest years of my life,” he said. “I’m free to be who I am. I was not free to be who I was before.”

The realization often doesn’t come easily. Sue Pratt, 74, of Kirkwood, Missouri, remembers having feelings for her high school English teacher, but she wasn’t sure what to do with them when she always dreamed of getting married and having a husband. She got her wish, but even when her husband left her, she still couldn’t come to terms with the truth.

“You would think I would say, ‘I’m free now,”’ she said. “But that thought never occurred to me. I was so deep in denial.”

Eventually, in her 60s, she answered a personal ad and slowly began coming out to her loved ones as a lesbian. Not everyone has taken it well, as she feared would be the case, but she has no regrets.

“I didn’t want to have a secret,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I lose every friend that I have, this is what I have to do.”

Dr. Loren Olson, a psychiatrist in Des Moines, Iowa, who has studied late-in-life outings, said for most such seniors, there are losses, though they are typically less than they fear, and often vary greatly by socioeconomics.

Olson himself was 40 before he came out. While it may seem incomprehensible to some, he said it makes sense that many can’t face the truth for so long, even if some around them have surmised it.

“We don’t like disharmony in our thinking so sometimes we block out things that really are in opposition to really what we believe is true,” he said. “It’s like a child believing in Santa Claus: You just hang on to that as long as you can.”


Farthing’s life was sprinkled with hints.

As a boy, his mother asked one day how he liked school. “It was OK,” Farthing said. “But it would be better if I was a girl.”

He didn’t want to do the things other boys did. Girls didn’t want him around. He fought every haircut.

“We’ve got a homo on our hands,” he overheard his father say.

But with no sense what to do with his feelings of being different, life wore on. He served in the Air Force. He lived overseas. And then there was that girl he found at a pub in England.

She felt different, too, always attracted more to women than men. But they got along so well. And they fell in love.

Sex was never a big part of their relationship, but a daughter was born. The marriage, Farthing says, was happy. Both of them thought they would die with their soul mate by their side.

She did. Afterward, he tried anything to keep busy. He got his pilot’s license back. He bought a small plane; he built a hangar.

One day, he needed a brass, elbow-shaped piece for his plane’s fuel line. They call them male-to-female fittings, and he typed some such phrase into his computer. One of the search results that popped up was titled “The Male Lesbian Complex.”

“That’s stupid,” he thought, moving along to find the part.

But later, something drove him back. The description of the “complex” sounded just like him. Was he always meant to be a woman? Was he too old to accept this?

“I read it and it was so close to me that it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” Farthing said.

The transformation that followed has not sat well with all, of course.

A neighbor runs indoors now when Farthing comes outside of her Oakville, Missouri, home. A brother-in-law and other relatives have cut her out of their lives. And her volunteer work at a nursing home had to end when her secret became known.

But those who are closest have accepted her. And now, in life’s twilight, she says she finally feels normal.

“For the first time ever my life feels like it’s in the right place,” she said. “I’m going to check out of this world the way I was meant to come into it.”