Out of the 536 Orange County same-sex couples in the 2010 U.S. Census, it’s hard to say how many include elderly partners. But for local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors seeking support, or just a place to socialize, the “Gay and Gray” program may bring new visibility to this segment of the LGBT community.
At the first meeting of Orange County’s “Gay and Gray” initiative Thursday evening, LGBT senior citizens gathered to discuss how to organize and meet their community’s needs at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill.
The event, part of the Orange County Department on Aging’s five-year plan, was organized after community input meetings revealed a need for local support of the elderly LGBT community.
Department director Janice Tyler said the Seymour Center wanted to provide an opportunity for seniors to get together and make the event what they wanted.
“We wanted to make sure they know (the Seymour Center) is a safe and welcoming environment,” Tyler said.
Partners Kath McCarron, 68, and Marsha Guskey, 63, who recently moved to Hillsborough, said they were excited about the event.
“This is a big deal to us,” McCarron said. “The older you get, the harder it is to make really good friends.”
“I hope it continues and more people can come to it,” Guskey said.
Getting the word out and reaching other members of the aging LGBT community was one topic discussed by the group. Communication among members is a challenge because some seniors who would like to be involved might not own or know how to use a computer.