SOCIAL isolation and loneliness are issues for many older people – and the risk is higher among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) community, says Pam Mulholland.
To combat the issue, Ms Mulholland, a gay woman from Mandurah, runs Meet ‘n Muse groups for lesbians who are 55 and over to meet and socialise throughout the month.
The groups have been running for two years and meet once a fortnight in both Perth and Mandurah as part of an outreach community program run by GRAI (GLBTI Rights in Aging Inc).
Ms Mulholland said the purpose of Meet ‘n Muse was to reach out to gay women disconnected from or new to the community, and to provide a place where they could enjoy the company of their peers and celebrate their lives.
“Social isolation and loneliness are issues for many older people but the risk is greater for LGBTI people who are statistically less likely to enjoy family connection and support than their heterosexual peers,” she said.
“Most of us understand the importance and the value of being able to share significant aspects of our lives with others who can relate to our experience.
“Older lesbian women have lived a large part of their lives in times when homosexuality was far less accepted than it is today.
“Many have life stories, experiences and even current circumstances that they feel unable to share fully with the heterosexual people around them.”
Ms Mulholland said the Meet ‘n Muse included a discussion on a different topic each fortnight, which could be quirky, serious, political or whimsical, followed by socialising at a local coffee shop.
“Meet ‘n Muse provides regular, relaxing and fun social time in a space where there’s no need to self-censor conversation around our shared but also varied experiences of life as members of a marginalised minority group,” she said.
“In other words, while we discuss a wide range of topics, the primary benefit is that we’re in an easy and safe place to be ourselves where we feel understood and validated no matter when or how we came to our understanding of ourselves as lesbians.”
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