I had heard through the grapevine that The L Stop crew was looking for a scrappy, mouthy writer who wasn’t afraid to speak up about the needs and wants of women age 50 and older, especially LBT women. Of course, you say to yourself, “self, that sounds an awful lot like you since you are kind of known for being a bit mouthy and scrappy when it comes to aging issues!” I have been known to be in a meeting talking about events or services for LBT women and going on about “you’re talking about LBT women…what about those of us over 50? How will you involve, serve, include, engage us??”
Yeah, yeah Terri…we know – again with the women over 50!
But here’s the thing. I started working for a national aging organization just two weeks shy of my 40th birthday – and sixteen years later, I’m still at it. And the volunteers I worked with never let me get away with the “oh I turned 40 or 50” lament –to them I was always the young pup in the room. And most of them at age 65, 75 and 85 ran circles around me at events and lobbying in the Capital. But I learned quickly that I wasn’t going to be doing half of what I could do nor even producing some of my best work…until I made it to that 50 year mark! There was just something to be said for getting better with age. I saw it every day.
The weird irony in this…here I have been advocating for issues that affected the volunteers I worked with and the general public I had conversations with on every imaginable topic for nearly 16 years. One day not long ago, I looked in the mirror and realized I was becoming one of the faces I was representing. I am one of those Boomers in the center of the current debate over the future of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security! I am one of those 50+ lesbians we talk about in our Chicago Task Force on LGBT Aging monthly meetings as we figure out how to serve our growing older LGBT population here in Chicago.
I was living “all politics is personal!” When the Ryan Budget passed in the US House earlier this year – the one that talked about totally redoing Medicare for future beneficiaries – some commentators said the bill would change Medicare for those who were 55 and younger. Another commentator said those individuals who were 55 and older would still be able to continue with traditional Medicare.
Even though my professional work self calmly continued the conversation about not cutting benefits to Medicare and Social Security for current and future beneficiaries period, my 55-year old voice in my head was screaming “WAIT, so does this mean I GET traditional Medicare or NOT!! I have been planning on the Medicare we all know and love no matter what!!!!”
Yeah, it was becoming VERY personal…and it becomes even more personal for all of us who are LBT as well! Our own personal Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits are all we get, no sharing with spouses! Making sure it’s strong and there for all of us is a big darn deal.
Look, as you can tell…I’m 55 and proud of it! I live every day trying to fulfill my vision of a community where we all can be safe, engaged, respected and able to make our own choices for as long as we live.
I may know more about aging issues than most – but I have no idea what all is happening out there in Chicago. That’s why we’re all here, right? So I’m going to be asking and posting what I learn. Hey, when you write for The L Stop, you even get a new email address Terri@thelstop.org I really want to hear from you beautiful women out there. Questions, comments, and events to post…I want it all. And I’ll be bringing you info that will provoke discussions and provide resources to make our lavender years that much better.
Hey, I know getting older also has its struggles, fears, setbacks and losses…seen some of them myself and so have lots of you. But that’s the beauty of LBT women – we’re a hardy bunch because we’ve had to be. And we are here for each other – laughing, crying, and dancing our way through.
Come back and see me soon. And I don’t care what others may say. I truly believe – it only gets better with age. Be well.