New Democracy Maps

LGBTQ Older Adults

Although largely invisible until very recently, LGBTQ older adults make up a significant (and growing) share of both the overall LGBTQ population and the larger 65+ population. While confronted with the same challenges that face all people as they age, LGBTQ elders also face an array of unique barriers and inequalities that can stand in the way of a healthy and rewarding later life.

The following resources offer an overview into the lives of LGBTQ older adults, including an introduction to the challenges facing LGBTQ older adults, a report on the impact of religious exemptions, and a policy series entitled “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults.”

Related Resources

Issue Brief

Why LGBT Elders Need the Equality Act

July 2021 - This issue brief details how LGBT older people would benefit from passage of the Equality Act, which would update federal civil rights law to explicitly protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in key areas of life.

Issue Brief

Uplift LGBT Carework in the American Jobs Plan

May 2021 - The American Jobs Plan creates a unique opportunity to provide vital services and protections for LGBT older people–two populations that too often feel invisible. This info sheet discusses how we can best support LGBT elders through the Americans Jobs Plan.


Week #1: 10 Ways President Biden Can Support LGBTQ People

November 2020 - This brief highlights 10 actions the Biden administration can immediately start to ensure LGBTQ people and their families can be protected from discrimination.


LGBT Older Adults & COVID-19

May 2020 - Older adults in the United States are at increased risk for contracting COVID-19. They are particularly vulnerable without access during the pandemic to the health care resources and social structures that contribute to overall wellness. This is especially true for the 1.1 million LGBTQ people who are ages 65 and older living across the country.


Nursing Home Ad

June 2018 – Nursing Home is the latest in a series of ads illustrating the devastating harms many LGBT Americans face because have they no legal protection from discrimination. The new video features an older gay man and his family on the first day he moves into an assisted living facility. When the director of the facility learns the man is gay, he refuses to allow him to move in. No matter their age, and no matter who they love, no one should be turned away from a business or service provider simply because of who they are.


Open to All: Join the Campaign Ad

June 2018 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece case affirmed that states can protect LGBT people from discrimination. Now it’s time for our nation’s laws to catch up to our nation’s values and protect all Americans from discrimination. Join the campaign to call on businesses to declare that they oppose discrimination and that they are Open to All. Visit to learn more.


Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services

December 2017 - Religious exemptions laws jeopardize the security and safety of LGBT older adults, who rely on many religiously affiliated organizations for services like congregate meals, skilled nursing, and health care.


LGBT Older Adults and Social Isolation

November 2017 - For many LGBT older adults, the holidays are a time of social isolation and vulnerability. LGBT older adults are less likely to be married or partnered, and are twice as likely to live alone, leaving them particularly vulnerable to social isolation. This infographic provides resources for LGBT elders as well as information about the challenges facing LGBT older adults. The infographic is translated into six different languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic and Chinese.


A Closer Look: Bisexual Older Adults

September 2017 - This report takes a closer look at bisexual older adults: who they are, their unique disparities and resilience, and recommendations for competently serving the community of bisexual older adults. Both the LGBT community and the aging network can and should do more to ensure that bisexual older adults feel welcome both in LGBT spaces and in the aging network’s provision of critical services and supports.


Video: Aging as LGBT: Two Stories

May 2017 - Created to supplement the report Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, this video follows Jackie and Tina, two women born in the same town in 1947 whose lives take very different turns.


Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults

May 2017 - There are approximately 2.7 million LGBT adults aged 50 and older in the United States, 1.1 million of whom are 65 and older. This report provides an overview of their unique needs and experiences so that service providers, advocates, the aging network, and policymakers can consider these factors when serving this population or passing laws that impact older adults and the LGBT community.


AARP's Inside E Street: Gay and Grey

October 2010 - Michael Adams, executive director of Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE), talks with Sheilah Kast, host of AARP’s Inside E Street, about an array of challenges facing older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults.


Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults: Issue Briefs

September 2010 - This series of briefs digs deeper into key topics addressed in the full report. The 13 briefs cover the challenges facing LGBT elders in areas from health disparities to pensions, while offering recommendations for policy actions to improve LGBT elders’ lives.


Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults: Snapshot Report

March 2010 - This snapshot, 10-page summary of Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults provides key findings from the full report and an overview of its recommendations for eliminating—or at least reducing—inequities and improving the lives, and life chances, of LGBT elders.


Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults (Large Print Version)

March 2010 - This report examines the unique challenges facing LGBT adults as they age. It shows how social stigma and inequitable policies and laws make it hard for LGBT elders to achieve financial security, good health, healthcare, social support and community engagement.


Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults

March 2010 - This report examines the unique challenges facing LGBT adults as they age. It shows how social stigma and inequitable policies and laws make it hard for LGBT elders to achieve financial security, good health, healthcare, social support and community engagement.

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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