Supporting LGBTQ+ Older Adults During Grief and Loss Following Orlando Attack
By Sherrill Wayland, MSW
As an LGBTQ+ community, we reflect on the tragic loss of life experienced at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vigils are now being held in communities large and small, providing the LGBTQ+ community, families and friends a safe space to grieve and remember. Yet, we know many LGBTQ+ older adults are isolated and often lack the support systems that they can turn to in times of need. As a community, now is especially important time to step up to support LGBTQ+ older adults during this difficult time.
SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging is asking all older adult service organizations to simply reach out and offer support. In the coming days, take time to make a visit or a personal phone call to an LGBTQ+ older adult you support and let them know you are here to listen.. The tragic murders at the LGBTQ+ nightclub may bring about a sense of trauma and anxiety for LGBTQ+ older adults who know all too well the realities of violence and discrimination due to homophobia and transphobia. As a service provider, you may provide the only safe space an LGBTQ+ older adult can turn to for support..
If you’re not sure what say, simply tell them, “I am reaching out today to let you know that I am here to listen and support you if you need to talk.”
Here are additional organizations that can assist in linking LGBTQ+ older adults to community services during this time of grieving and healing:
- The Center – LGBTQ+ Center in Orlando offering A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446 and grief counseling in the coming weeks
- We Stand With Orlando – for a listing of events, vigils and resources
- SAGENet – for SAGE Affiliate Chapters with local resources
- National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging – for educational resources and links for LGBTQ+ welcoming services
- CenterLink – for list of Community Centers across the Country, many will be providing grief support and counseling
- GLBT National Hotline – providing free and confidential peer-peer support and resources
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization
Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.