LGBT Elders

Working to reduce the homophobia and transphobia that elder gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face.


On August 1, 2015 One Iowa presented the first Gay & Gray in the Midwest Senior Summit at Grandview University. This groundbreaking event brought LGBT elders, allies and advocates together with providers of healthcare, housing and other services. It broadened the conversation about the needs of aging LGBT Iowans, helped make connections between individuals, communities and resources, and helped LGBT seniors understand their rights.

The summit sold out weeks in advance, showcasing the urgent need for such an event focusing on our LGBT elders who are too often forgotten. After serving over 150 attendees at this year’s summit, we’re looking forward to expanding the impact and reach of future summits to provide resources for even more LGBT seniors across the state.

If you would like to contribute to this exciting work and help plan next year’s summit, consider joining the Gay & Gray Summit 2016 advisory committee! To volunteer for the committee, email with the subject line “Gay & Gray”.

LGBT Aging Survey

In 2014, One Iowa conducted a preliminary LGBT Aging Survey.

While LGBT elders confront the same health, housing and social issues that all elders face, they must also deal with the additional challenges of isolation, discrimination and lack of understanding.

According to our survey of LGBT elders (based on nearly 500 respondents):

  • 36.7 percent of LGBT elders live alone. This means LGBT elders rely less on children and family to take care of them.
  • As a result, elders depend mostly on a “family of choice,” many of whom are not acknowledged by official policies and laws. This can create some significant problems later in life.
  • Most surprisingly, many LGBT elders go back into the closet when they go into longterm care.

This is unacceptable, and One Iowa is working to change this unfortunate reality for many LGBT elders. We are meeting with elders in their homes and communities, learning about the problems they face, and documenting their stories. Our survey and focus groups help us assess the social, financial and health issues impacting our LGBT elders. We provide information about healthcare options, and education to providers and the public. In addition, we suggest strategies for reform and create advocacy opportunities with policymakers.

Working with our elders, and with nonprofit, policy, health and corporate leaders, Gay & Gray in the Midwest thoughtfully and respectfully makes a difference in how our LGBT community ages in Iowa.

Click here for an October 2014 report from SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) that looks at the experiences and attitudes of LGBT older adults, age 45-75.