Embracing the Silver Rainbow

Samantha Edmonds

Silver Rainbow National Project Manager


There is a general invisibility of LGBTI elders within mainstream society and within LGBTI communities. In addition, LGBTI elders have experienced prejudice and discrimination over the life course, from government, agencies, organisations, health providers, businesses, families, friends, and individuals.  These experiences cause LGBTI elders to: remain in or return to the closet; be reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation or their intersex status; feel unable to affirm their gender identity or express their gender freely; be afraid to disclose their gender history or experience when relevant; or be hesitant to confront stereotyping about who they are and what they need.

Many LGBTI elders have significant fears about accessing services. They are concerned that service providers and health and other professionals will be indifferent to their sexuality and gender identity, or, at worst, actively hostile. They worry that services are simply ‘not for them’, or that they will receive worse treatment than their non-LGBTI peers.

This session will discuss who L,G,B,T and I peoples are and the issues that affect these distinct populations, and why we need to address their genders, bodies, relationships, and/or sexuality differently. It will demonstrate why we need to move from ‘but we treat everyone the same” to “how can we meet each person’s individual needs”. It will explore the learnings we have gained on inclusive practice and provide practical tips on how this can be done.