For a while, Bruce Meisner and Bob Rupar were attending a funeral a week. The two energetic, grey-haired men in their 70s, partners of 40 years, recall the Reagan era as a dark time when male friends were quietly dying, childless and spouseless, from an epidemic no one acknowledged: AIDS.
Today, Meisner, Rupar and other gay seniors of their generation still live in the shadows. There are an estimated 10,000 gay seniors in Portland, and around 3 million nationwide, according to the most conservative estimates. Many are battling a double dose of vulnerability that wreaks havoc on their finances, health and emotions.
Portland’s own gay elder advocacy group, Gay & Grey PDX, is on the frontlines of fighting that vulnerability. Supported by the community nonprofit Friendly House in Northwest Portland, the team of about 20 advocates and allies organizes benefit events and conducts educational workshops in nursing homes to raise awareness about discrimination that many don’t even realize exists. Continue reading