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By Allison Jones

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The forum, held at Simon Fraser University (SFU) downtown Vancouver on February 18,  was well attended by LGBTQ seniors, health care providers, academics, students and other interested participants. It was the second in a series of five town hall meetings on elder abuse, hosted by Dr Gloria Gutman,  presented in partnership by the Simon Fraser Gerontology Research Centre, and Quirk-e (the Queer elder riting kollective) and was held at .

Dr. Gutman gave opening remarks, introducing the audience to the reality of abuse in the LGBTQ communities and to the forms it takes, whether it be financial, physical, psychological or emotional. In some case, elder abuse presents itself as self-neglect, when an older person has no one to look after them, they may begin to neglect themselves to the point where it is considered a form of self-abuse.

Dr. Gutman received a grant from BC’s Ministry of Health to work with Quirk-e. Quirk-e members worked with Surrey Youth for a Change to write, act, direct and film three shorts (each no more than three minutes in length) with different scenarios depicting elder abuse. The Vancouver audience, which included staff from LGBTQ serving organizations, was enthusiastic. The films, although dealing with difficult topics, were refreshing in that they not only represented LGBTQ seniors, they were acted by LGBTQ seniors themselves. The shorts depicted abuse as complex and situational, with many different tensions intersecting, including family loyalty, internalized homophobia, control and gender conformity, and physical and psychological violence. 

The town hall featured a number of Senior and LGBTQ senior-serving organizations including THiP, Vancouver Coastal Re-Act, SAIL (Seniors Abuse & Information Line), PRISM, QMUNITY, Alzheimer’s Society of BC, the Office of the Public Trustee and Dr.Gutman herself commenting on how LGBTQ elder abuse affects the LGBTQ seniors community. These town halls will happen or have already happened in Surrey, Prince George, Kelowna and on Vancouver Island. The group working on the grant has designed a number of LGBTQ elder abuse posters to raise the issue’s visibility and include information on how to report and document elder abuse when it occurs with LGBTQ seniors.

Please contact the Seniors Coordinator at QMUNITY  or 604-684-8449 for more information.


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