(CBS) — Pride Fest is this weekend in Chicago and for some older Chicago-area residents, it’s a reminder of how much things have changed and continue to change for the gay community, reports WBBM’s Terry Keshner.
A group of LGBT seniors gathers for lunch every Friday in west suburban Forest Park and welcome anyone to join them.
It’s mostly a time to eat and socialize, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect and send a message to the younger generation.
“We’ve made it easier, the path for them [younger gay people] to travel, going through the persecutions. There are a lot of people I know in our age group who have gone through electric shock treatments, had to go into mental institutions, because they were declared ill because they were gay,” said 74-year-old David Gore.
A group member named Jerry, who just recently got married to his partner of 38 years, says “I actually didn’t expect I would live long enough to actually see it [so many changes, including marriage equality] and yet we’ve seen such a dramatic change.”
It’s estimated there are 1.5 million LGBT people age 65 or older in the U.S.
Advocates for LGBT seniors say they are often discriminated against when it comes to Social Security, retiree health benefits, inheritance laws, long term care and other things and sometimes caregivers and nursing homes will deny them service based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.