Slightly more than two years ago I introduced the Aging in Community column and promised to identify opportunities and challenges that San Francisco LGBT elders face in later life. The focus of the column has been on the people, programs, policies and legislation that empower and enable LGBT elders to continue to live and thrive in their communities. Articles targeting and supporting first of a kind legislation and innovative programs that provide smart, effective solutions to the challenges of living a long and well lived life have been highlighted (The Dignity Fund, The LGBT Dementia Care Project, The LGBT Senior Care Facilities Bill of Rights, the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act). I am committed in the new year to continuing this tradition and more.
Today the greatest challenge we face is something much larger and darker than we would ever have thought possible. It is the election of a president who threatens the civil rights of all Americans and undermines our country’s democratic institutions. The President elect is forming a government of people that espouse racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT and misogynist polices and rhetoric.
The danger to personal freedom, and to life as we know it, is real and cannot be minimized or ignored. We need to act and act now to keep ignorance, hatred and bigotry from becoming the new normal. Robert Reich’s article, The First 100 days: Resistance Agenda, lays out a solid plan of action: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reichs-first-100-days-resistance-agenda#.WDHRhP4YIxY.facebook Check it out.
This Thanksgiving—when the very core values of democracy, such as respect for human rights, protection of civil rights, and a sense of mutual respect, whatever the differences—are under attack, I could not be more grateful than I am for community. There is hard work ahead, but I take comfort in community and the broad inclusive coalitions that are marching and demonstrating, calling elected officials and signing petitions.
In the new year, the Aging in Community column will continue the tradition of identifying the opportunities and challenges for San Francisco’s LGBT elders. But expect to see expanded coverage of the people, organizations, policies and issues that affect all seniors on a national level.
This Thanksgiving, wherever you are and whomever you are, you are not alone.
This Thanksgiving, take time to appreciate what is good in your life. This holiday season pray, meditate, reflect. Take time to be grateful for all of the people and things in your life that sustain and nurture you, and then get engaged. Identify what you can, and want, to do to keep our democratic institutions strong and to keep hatred from becoming the new normal. Then do it.
Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse. She is also a leading advocate and educator in LGBT affirming dementia care and a member of the Advisory Council to the Aging and Adult Services Commission.