Creating safe spaces for LGBT seniors must be a priority

The world can be a dangerous place. For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it can be even more dangerous. And for an LGBT senior, vulnerability is exaggerated to an extreme. That is why, as we grow older, we must place an emphasis on safety.

We all grew up with the slogan: “Safety First.” Attention to safety can prevent accidents and injuries. But for LGBTQIA+ people, perceived safety can equal actual safety.

All of us, several times every day, enter spaces and immediately assess the safety of the space, in regard to the people present. We instantly calculate, “Are these people LGBT-friendly? Am I safe to be myself here?”

We do it so often, with such regularity, that we often take this mental action for granted.

Our walls never come down regarding the need to put safety first. For LGBTQIA+ citizens, feeling safe within an environment is the same as being safe. It is important for us to create safe spaces for ourselves and our allies.

Many LGBT seniors dream of “aging in place” at home, specifically so they may remain safe. Studies and statistics prove that LGBT seniors are more likely to be neglected and/or abused within a retirement community, compared to their non-LGBT neighbors. It is vitally important that our beloved LGBT seniors find a safe and welcoming living environment for their golden years.

The Coalition for Aging LGBT brings LGBT Cultural Competency Training to retirement communities throughout North Texas, to make these living environments safe for — and respectful of — our growing LGBT senior community. You can visit our website — CfA.LGBT — to read our North Texas LGBT-Friendly Senior Housing Guide to learn about the retirement communities that have passed our thorough vetting.

Or, if you want to take a valuable shortcut, you can download our Housing Metric from the Coalition for Aging LGBT website and take it to any retirement community you are interested in to verify whether they are ready to protect you and support you within their community.

The Alzheimer’s Association ( is hosting a free on-line program titled: “Creating Safe Spaces” to educate the general public, as well as social workers and medical professionals (CEU credits available) on the ways to create safe spaces for LGBT seniors. Visit Alznct.News/LGBTQ24 or call 800-272-3900 to register. All are welcome.

Legal and financial safety is another important issue for LGBT seniors. There are unique details that must be addressed to protect our marriages and partnerships such as inheritance, survivorship, insurance and guardianship.

On Saturday, April 20, at 9 a.m., the Coalition for Aging LGBT will host “Legal & Financial Strategies for LGBT Seniors” at The Senior Source on Harry Hines. Professionals will share their expertise with all who attend — for FREE.

A Continental Breakfast will be provided at 8:30 a.m. This is a casual, come-as-you-are gathering.

For your safety, do yourself a favor: Attend this valuable event.

Nothing is more important, at home or at work, than safety. Be part of the solution. Participate in creating safe spaces. Because the most important thing is to be safe.

Longtime community activist and 2022 recipient of Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Award Robert Emery is a founding board member of the Coalition for Aging LGBT and is on the board for The Dallas Way.