LGBT Millennials Start to Think about Aging
Tom Temprano believes in an anti-ageist LGBT community that recognizes the needs of the elderly, but it wasn’t until he broke a tiny bone in his foot during a heated basketball game that he experienced first-hand the limitations that come with age.
The gay 26-year-old found himself debilitated for nearly four months and fostered the same sort of community among friends, partners, and resources that the elderly experience.
For the growing population of younger, millennial LGBT individuals largely self-employed and without jobs with 401k packages, the future often seems hazy - that is, if it’s even considered.
"My injury got me more concerned as I see those around me aging and I want to make sure everyone has access to health care," said Temprano, who last week was elected president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.
He estimates his 401k from a previous job at a nonprofit entrepreneurial center at $800, and it hasn’t increased due to his self-employment as a promoter and marketing consultant.
Among those under 30 who were interviewed, uncertainty loomed when asked, "What will you do when you retire?" or, "Who will decide your end of life care?"
Even greater, simpler, and more personal was the question, "Do you want to have kids?"
"I’m interested in my education so I can get a career so I can have a family. I don’t know which one will come first though. By the time I’m in my mid-30s though, definitely," said Darren Girard, 25, a transgender man and recent graduate of City College of San Francisco.
Among young LGBT people, preparation for aging - whether it’s financial or more personal - doesn’t seem necessary until it happens.
"Personally, I’m single, but if I had a partner I’d make those wills and put money aside to prepare for those taxes if they were the same way in the future," said Girard from his new home in Santa Ana, California.
And too often, the pace of life overshadows consideration for long-term planning when many LGBT millennials find themselves in a stale job economy mounted with student debt.
Angela Perone is a 31-year-old attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which was the first LGBT legal organization to start a permanent Elder Law Project to identify and assist the needs of an aging generation of baby boomers.
She works with aging issues and said it highlights gaps in policy work, including the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents federal recognition of same-sex relationships for tax and other purposes.
A queer woman, Perone has been with her same-sex partner for six years, and she’d like to have children. But in the course of this maturation, she has recognized the complications that arise from aging as a lesbian.
"My partner and I have honest discussions and think about issues and steps to create documents in spite of legal barriers. We talk to other family members and friends. Do we want to be buried or cremated? Who do you not want there?" Perone said.