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Shining a light on older LGBTQ+ people

Words by Smiley Team

June is pride month – a month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the ongoing push for civil rights. Pride happens during June because of the Stonewall Riots that punctuated 1969, acting as a jumping-off point for the modern LGBTQ+ movement.  

Whether by coincidence or as a symptom of the time, much of the queer community today is younger – usually 37 and below – according to the Williams Institute. With that, a lot of the spotlight is on the younger generation of queer people. 

But there are still groups of older LGBTQ+ people that look for community and belongingness. That’s something that Openhouse, a non-profit with the goal of centering older queer voices, and providing them that sense of community while also providing a sense of security. 

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Openhouse was founded in 1998, originally to meet housing needs of low-income LGBTQ older adults in San Francisco. "We realized early on that beyond housing, there was also a need for social services, enrichment, and educational opportunities that help to reduce isolation and support connection to community," Openhouse executive director Kathleen Sullivan tells Smiley News.

"We have developed two affordable apartment communities that are LGBTQ welcoming and are in the process of developing our third community. Openhouse enables San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQ+ seniors to overcome the unique challenges they face as they age by providing housing, direct services, and community programs.”

The mission was inspired by the LGBTQ+ people who lived and expressed themselves openly before it was socially acceptable to do so.

“I am inspired to be involved because I know that I stand on the shoulders of leaders who came before me," says Kathleen. "LGBTQ older adults who lived their lives out and proud when it was not safe to do so." 

Openhouse serves the San Fransisco community and according to their impact report, they helped hundreds of people in 2020-2021. That came in the form of food deliveries, phone calls, support programs, and more.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Openhouse receives a lot of its funding through donations, so if you’re so inclined consider donating.

SUPPORT: As pride continues look at local LGBTQ+ organizations or communities and consider supporting them.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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