Continuing the conversation about LGBT issues, an article from the Chicago Tribute caught my eye this week, and I’ve found an additional one from Newsweek since. Both highlight the challenges facing the rising population of elderly LGBT people.
Supposedly there are about 3 million LGBT people over 55 in the U.S., a number expected to grow to 4 million in the next 10 years. Besides the normal fears that go with aging, LGBT individuals are especially concerned with having someone to care for them (they’re 10 times less likely to have a caretaker if they become ill) and finances (since even legally married, they are not eligible for spousal social security and survivor benefits). They also fear discrimination and finding care facilities in which they feel comfortable.
I hope the church doesn’t pass up this need and opportunity. Today I finished the book Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw for one of my classes, and toward the end, the issue of caring for the elderly was mentioned. If caring for our oldest neighbors is a neglected task demanding a resurgence of compassion, how much more, I think, Jesus’s heart goes out to these people, disdained by so many and lacking financial advantages and (often) children to care for them.
Jesus is already there with them. As this societal problem grows, will we, the church, join him?