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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

IN Community: 7 Activities For Older LGBTQ2+ Adults

Programs to help LGBTQ2+ seniors stay connected to their community and their peers…
By Jumol Royes
Queer culture is known for being youth-focused, some might even say obsessed.
Sadly, that means LGBTQ2+ seniors are often perceived as being irrelevant and find themselves pushed to the sidelines. The result? Social isolation and loneliness. According to a supplementary report published by Employment and Social Development Canada titled, “Social Isolation of Seniors – A Focus on LGBTQ Seniors in Canada,” loneliness in LGBTQ2+ seniors is associated with substance use, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, dementia and suicide.
But when LGBTQ2+ seniors feel like they belong to a community, have access to queer-friendly health and social services and can lean on a support network that includes chosen family and friends, it protects them against social isolation and other negative health outcomes.
Here’s a roundup of seven activities and programs for older LGBTQ2+ adults to help them stay connected to their community and their peers.
The 519 2SLGBTQ+ Adults Program
This core program by The 519 in Toronto provides LGBTQ2+ older adults with “opportunities to make deeper connections with their peers.” The program runs virtually on Mondays and features conversations, workshops, guest speakers, film screenings and more. A second program, Active Minds, is a “weekly virtual social afternoon for older 2SLGBTQ+ adults” that runs on Fridays. Advance registration is required; all are welcome.
2SLGBTQ+ Older Adults and Allies Coffee Circles
Virtual meetups happen twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesday, and are open to LGBTQ2+ folx and allies of all ages. These social and recreational get-togethers are attended by older adults, youth and everyone in between, and are a safe space to connect and chat. Special guests pop in from time to time to talk about topics like wellness and grief, or to just share their stories. This program is offered by CAYR Community Connections in York Region.
Rainbow Table
Rainbow Table is a virtual space for LGBTQ2+ seniors and allies to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The digital platform created by Egale connects LGBTQ2+ seniors across Canada and serves as a one-stop-shop for support and resources in areas like health, legal rights and more. Participants can join a Facebook group that’s 900+ members strong, learn how to create their own virtual community and watch past episodes of Rainbow Table hosted by Deb Pearce featuring special guests.
Teatime with Dorothy (55+)
Organized by Calgary Outlink, this drop-in event provides “friendly conversation in a safe, supportive and welcoming online environment.” The meetup takes place via Zoom on the second Tuesday and fourth Thursday of the month and is a space where older LGBTQ2+ adults and allies can meet new people and support each other.  Calgary Outlink staff are also available to meet one-on-one or in small groups by phone, text or video chat if people need additional support or help connecting to counselling services.
QMUNITY Older Adults and Seniors Programs
Vancouver-based QMUNITY offers 55+ and seniors programming for LGBTQ2+ older adults in search of community “to come together and meet, guide and support each other.” The weekly QMUNITY Zoom Social happens on Thursdays and new participants are welcome and encouraged. The Friendly Caller Program connects volunteers with LGBTQ2+ community members for weekly social phone calls. Sign-up in advance to participate.
Older and Bolder
Older and Bolder is a group for older (50+) LGBTQ2+ women who live in Ottawa, Gatineau and the surrounding area. The monthly drop-in discussion group meets on Zoom and is facilitated by three older lesbians and longtime members of the Ottawa Senior Pride Network. Participants come together to connect and share stories with likeminded individuals. Meet-ups typically take place on the third Monday of the month.
Gay & Grey Montreal
Gay & Grey Montreal was formed to help reduce social isolation for English-speaking LGBTQ2+ older adults over the age of 50 in Montreal. Zoom calls begun back in May 2020 to keep folks connected to each other during the pandemic. Calls are held twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays and topics vary. Past themes range from taxes, wills and housing to talking about staying busy, sharing recipes and playing games.

JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-area storyteller, communications strategist and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter @Jumol and on Instagram @jumolroyes.

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