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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 1, 1985)
You're never too -
old to love
Open to All
by Shosharxa Keller
Growing old and dying is a thought that
terrifies most people. The mass media gen
erally ignore old people, and as individuals
we tend to push away as much as possible
the thought of our own aging and death. For
lesbians and gay men, the thought of living
and dying in a heterosexual retirement center
or nursing home can be especially troubling.
The Lesbian Aging Project (LAP) is a small
group of Portland women who have been
working for a year and a half to develop solu
tions for the problems that old lesbians face.
They propose an ambitious program geared
to meet the needs of old dykes with many
interests and in many states of health.
The Lesbian Aging Project originally
called itself the Old Dyke’s Home (the
name was changed for public relations
purposes) and a home, center, or cluster of
buildings is at the project’s core.
"We had a group visualization of what we
wanted,xjght down to the colors,’’ said LAP
Executive Board member Jesse Jordan. “We
want a space for animals, a softball diamond,
a meditation room and a recreation center,"
cis well as health-care facilities, she said. Other
ideas for the project are a lesbian visiting
association for the homebound women, a
hospice, a meals-on-wheels program, and a
day-care center where residents can care for
working lesbians’ children.
A short-range goal for the LAP is the
purchase of one house where several older
lesbians can live together on a fairly auton
omous basis. It is hoped that this house will
eventually constitute the beginning of a clus
ter of houses or a center where actual health
care facilities and other services can be
These visions are far from being concrete
realizatons, however. One major problem is
money. The LAP has made some profit from
the sale of T-shirts saying “You’re
Never Too Old To Love," but does not have
much income beyond that The Ms. mag
azine foundation turned down a grant appli
cation. The group is in the process of
finishing its bylaws to file for non-profit in
corporation. This has been a long and dif
ficult process for members of the project
because no one involved has any previous
experience in writing bylaws.
People, or rather a lack thereof, have been
the other major problem for the LAP. The
Executive Board consists of six white women
and one Native American woman, who make
up almost all of the LAP membership. “People
have been positive, but no one wants to com
mit time,” Jordan explained.
“Last January we had a community
meeting and invited 500 people,” said
Renee Augrain, another Board member. “Fif
teen showed up. And the excuse I heard a lot
was that it was Superbowl Sunday. But the
fifteen who did come were really committed”
Jordan and Augrain have several
thoughts on why people are reluctant to
commit time to the LAP. "The older you get,
the more the reality of what you might need
really sets in,” said Jordan. “People don’t
want to think about aging. But I want to see
lesbians take care of each other if what we
don’t want to happen happens.”
“People have a hard time believing that
they’ll need this,” said Augrian. "We need to
figure out a way to make women know they
need this. Three lesbians I knew in one month
died of cancer... we need people."
The Lesbian Aging Project has four basic
committees that need women to fill them.
They are: fund-raising, financial resources,
bylaws, and program development "On One
committee we have two committee heads
and one member,” explained Augrain.
One thing the LAP is doing to attract
Just Out, September, 1985
September 7th at 1KX) p.m. in Mt Tabor Park.
The picnic will be potluck, featuring games,
prizes, and music with an eye to having fun
and drawing older lesbians out of their
closets and into the project Donation
requested is one dollar.
Finding older lesbians has been a chal
lenge for LAP Members. “Very few old les
bians are not closeted. We may not be able to
reach them,” said Jordan. "Old-style dykes
are hiding out We know of them by word-of-
mouth. There are also women in ‘clubs’...
tiny, incestuous private groups. These
women would benefit from a larger crowd,"
Augrain pointed out
Portland’s LAP is not unique in the United
States. There are many groups working on
the needs of aging lesbians and gay men
springing up around the country, such as the
Old Crone’s Nest in Florida and Senior Ac
tion Gay Environment (SAGE) in New
York. Jordan expects that the first nursing
home for gays and lesbians will be founded
soon in San Francisco, where the Unitarian
Universalist Church is putting up the funds.
A researcher at Johns Hopkins University,
Dr. AJ. Lucco, is conducting a survey of gay
and lesbian people age 55 and older to find
out what they want in facilties for the aged.
People interested in participating in the
survey should write to: AJ. Lucco, M.D., The
Beacham Center, 5200 Easter Avenue, Balti
more, Maryland 21224.
In spite of obstacles and bum-out
Augrain and Jordan are optimistic about the
LAP’s future. “I think the time has come when
it’s going to start happening. We
need people, but I think that within six
months to a year we ought to be well into
starting a real home or a cluster of homes,"
said Augrain. Jordan waxed enthusiastic: "It
will happen. I know it will. We re not going to
give up. It will go."
o P E N
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 198S, 11 AM - 5 PM
Oregon School of Arts and Crafts ■ You have to see it to believe it ■
That's why we have an Open house, coming Saturday, Sept 14 At the
Fall Open house, you can view ongoing demonstrations by our faculty
artists and their students Or explore our campus facilities equipped
for over nine disciplines including Book Arts, Ceramics, Crafts History,
Drawing A Design, Fibers A Textiles, Metal, Photography, Print
making and Woodworking. Browse in our hoffman Sales Gallery and
visit the current show in the adjacent exhibition gallery, Double Vision,
artwork by artist couples After all that, you might want refreshments
from the school cafe ■ 05AC is many things to many people ■ But
you have to see it to believe it Come to our Fall Open house 5eeing is
believing. ■ Fall Term Classes Begin Sept. SO, 198S, Registration
begins Sept. 10 Call today for our new catalog and Fall Schedule
hurry! Class sizes are limited Beginners welcome ■
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