New group for LGBT seniors is first of its kind in Dallas
Tommy Boley spent 34 years as an English professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.
And although Boley says he always felt accepted at UTEP, he wanted to retire somewhere with a more vibrant LGBT community.
So in 2002, Boley moved to Dallas.
"I want to have fun the last years of my life," said Boley, 73. "Now’s my playtime."
While Boley is looking to enjoy himself, he said he finds bars and clubs boring. So to get involved, he decided to attend a volunteering class at the Resource Center of Dallas.
Since then, in addition to helping out regularly at RCD, Boley has joined the steering committee of GAIN —the GLBT Aging + Interest Network — a newly formed group for people 50 and older.
GAIN, the first program of its kind in Dallas, is designed to provide learning, entertainment and social opportunities to a growing but often overlooked segment of the LGBT population.
Cece Cox, associate executive director of the Resource Center, said GAIN was launched in response to input from the community.
"Over and over again there was information being sought about financial planning and how to access social services," Cox said. "We keep hearing over and over again, ‘What’s available for seniors?’"
Cox noted that like the rest of the community, LGBT seniors frequently face discrimination. She said the issue is finally reaching a critical mass because the gay-rights movement didn’t begin until about 1969.
"That generation may just now be finding its voice," she said.
According to the Associated Press, advocacy groups say the estimated 2.5 million gay seniors in America are twice as likely to live alone, four times less likely to have adult children to help them, and far more fearful of discrimination from health care workers.
Cox said in addition to launching GAIN, RCD staff members have been contacting local health care facilities, including nursing homes, to ask whether they’re aware of LGBT issues.
"I can tell you that he got a range of responses, from ‘Yes, we have GLBT clients,’ to ‘I don’t want to talk about that,’ to people hanging up the phone," Cox said. "There’s evidence that in some areas there’s a real lack of information and a real bias toward GLBT folks."
Several years ago, a group tried to launch a housing project for LGBT seniors in Dallas, called the Silver Hope Project, but the idea fell through due to a lack of funding.
"Hopefully at some point in time, maybe through GAIN, we can reactivate that program," said 67-year-old Jim LeCroy, a GAIN steering committee member who was involved in the Silver Hope Project.
LeCroy, who’s also been involved in the Legacy program at the Cathedral of Hope, said he takes an interest in helping other people in his age group survive.
"The gay community is rather youth-oriented, and we don’t like to think about age," LeCroy said. "There are a lot of lucky people in our community, but there’s a greater percentage who are not."
6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6
Resource Center of Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.
For more info, call 214-528-0144
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 31, 2008.