Pride in Ageing
Sir Ian McKellen, the 80 years young actor famous for his roles in movies like X-Men, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, will help launch a project to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people who are over 50.
McKellen, who has been openly gay since 1988 and has always been a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide, is trying to kill two birds — ageism and homophobia — with one stone, through the “Pride in Ageing” programme founded by the British charity LGBT Foundation.
The project launched on June 5th in Greater Manchester and is aimed at promoting equality and understanding in later life. The scheme will work to bring an end to the inequalities faced by LGBT people aged over 50, and ensure that they have access to inclusive housing and care later in life.
It will also tackle the social isolation faced by LGBT people over 50 in the UK. In fact, research commissioned by Lumen in March found that one in five over 50s (20%) – the equivalent of 4.2M people – feel lonely at least a few times a week. And LGBT people over 50 are at a much higher risk of isolation. They are also under-recognised in health and social care services, which leads to a significant impact on their levels of health, happiness and well-being.
During the launch, McKellen pointed out how people over 50 can remember a time when they couldn’t even talk about being LGBT, because they were breaking the law. In an interview to BBC, he said that he felt criminalised because of his sexuality in his youth. And while the law has luckily changed, attitudes towards older LGBT people haven’t altogether.
So the goal is to bring people together to share their stories, struggles and experiences, to build a more active, cohesive and empowered community. Because, as McKellen said at the event: “no one is born with prejudice, it’s something you learn”. And the time to unlearn it is definitely ripe.