The National LGBTQ Task Force estimates 3 million LGBTQ+ elders now live in the United States. As baby boomers are retiring, the audience is rapidly increasing for a documentary that explores continuing care dedicated to the specific needs of LGBTQ+ elders.
“We are delighted to endorse Pam Walton’s latest documentary, The Lodge. We encourage your support for this worthy project.”
The Lodge is a work-in-progress. You can help us finish this important documentary with your tax deductible donation through the International Documentary Association.
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The Lodge is a story about the first-of-its kind LGBTQ retirement community. Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, California, is the nation’s first state-licensed continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that’s specifically for LGBTQ+ seniors and their allies. It’s a story about the people who conceived and built the community and the people who live and work there. We want The Lodge to open a general audience’s eyes to the continuing struggle of LGBTQ+ people, especially seniors, as they face yet another equal rights hurdle: retirement.
In 2005 Bill and Cindy Gallaher bought 10 acres in Santa Rosa, CA, property that was zoned for high-density residential development. They were adoptive parents of transracial children and “sensitive to the experiences of minority groups.” Cindy especially saw a community for LGBTQ+ seniors as “an important social need.” And indeed it was. The Fair Housing Act is the only federal law “that prohibits discrimination on most private and public housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability and familial status.” But there is no protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ discrimination in elder care facilities is widespread. This means many elderly LGBTQ+ people are pushed back into the closet when they retire. Advocates for LGBTQ+ seniors have argued for years that long-term care facilities fail to protect them against discrimination and harassment.
“Same-sex partners may not be allowed to room together; staff may treat LGBTQ+ elders insensitively; recreational interests may be ignored or denied; finances and benefits normally given to heterosexual partners may be withheld from surviving same-sex partners; and the loneliness and isolation that accompany aging may be compounded by discrimination.”
“In a recent national investigation, 48% of older same-sex couples experienced at least one form of adverse differential treatment (as compared to heterosexual couples) when inquiring about housing in a senior living facility, including receiving less information about additional available units and little advice about additional fees, higher costs. Some have been subjected to a more complicated application process.”
The Gallaher’s plan to develop their 10 acres into a community that would be safe and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people was unprecedented. They built Fountaingrove Lodge, and according to the Sonoma County Gazette, it was the first of its kind in “the world”! It offers a continuum of care from assisted living to failing health. The Press Democrat, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle noted its opening in November 2013.
Today approximately 100 LGBTQ+ residents and their allies from all over the United States live at The Lodge. The average age is 75; the oldest person is 96. The LGBTQ+ community in the United States has been waiting for a place like Fountaingrove Lodge and now they’re waiting to see whether its welcoming and accepting policies will survive and encourage the building of other like communities.