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Kupuna In Red Shirt Standing On A Tree-lined Street.

Kūpuna Pride

Every year, June marks the national celebration of Pride Month to honor our LGBTQIA+*/MVPFAFF** community. Yet amidst the celebration, hate crimes targeting LGBTQIA+ people and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation are on the rise, threatening human rights, safety, and dignity. Unjust practices, policies, and community conditions threaten LGBTQIA+ people’s health and well-being, making this a critical public health issue.

For members of the Kūpuna Collective, we work together to ensure all kūpuna (older adults) get the care and support they deserve. Part of that care, in addition to meeting critical health and social needs, includes creating welcoming, safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ kūpuna, honoring their legacy as important members and leaders in our community, and providing LGBTQIA+ affirming services.

LGBTQIA+ kūpuna can experience multiple levels of oppression and social discrimination, including ageism, homophobia, heterosexism, and other intersecting drivers of health inequity. 

According to data from SAGE, Movement Advancement Project, National Council on Aging National LGBTQ+ Resource Center, AARP, LGTQ+ older people are:

  • Twice as likely to be single and live alone
  • Four times less likely to have children
  • More likely to have faced discrimination
  • Higher rates of chronic health conditions
  • Increased economic insecurity
  • Dwindling support networks / chosen families

Many LGBTQIA+ kūpuna have lived through discrimination, social stigma, and the effects of prejudice both past and present. Anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment and policies have disrupted their lives, affecting things from their connections to their family of origin to their lifetime earnings and opportunities to prepare for retirement. Past experiences of discrimination erodes trust in public and health care services and the providers of those services. Misunderstandings about LGBTQIA+ people and their potentially unique health needs raises the concern: are home and community-based services equipped to support aging in place for folks like themselves?

A critical pillar of public health is that all people, regardless of age, sex, or gender, have the ability to achieve their best health, participate fully in our communities, and maintain independence and self-determination even (or perhaps, especially) as we age. As we continue to celebrate Pride Month, we are reminded that these elders exist and that the work is not over. 

Pride Month, like the rest of the year, is a time of action to ensure that our treasured LGBTQIA+ kūpuna get the care and support they deserve, and to dismantle systems of oppression that perpetuate injustices so that we can rebuild better ones together. One Kūpuna Collective member, the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation, is leading the way to support LGBTQIA+ kūpuna in living healthy, happy, and productive lives. 

Learn more about ways to support LGBTQIA+ kūpuna by visiting their website: hawaiilgbtlegacyfoundation.com.

*LGBTQIA: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Allies
**MVPFAFF: Māhū, Vaka sa lewa lewa, Palopa, Faʻafafine, Akavaʻine, Fakaleiti, Fakafifine

Kiara Louise D. Bacasen

Kiara Louise D. Bacasen

Kūpuna Collective Special Project Coordinator VISTA
Lindsey Ilagan, MS

Lindsey Ilagan, MS

Program Manager: Kūpuna Initiatives
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