Liam Leonard, GLHV: What difference being LGBTI makes


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Liam Leonard, Director, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and Senior Research Fellow Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University delivered this presentation at the 2013 LGBTI Aged Care Forum. The two day event offers a platform for discussion on national policy issues, mental and physical health and implementing sensitive quality care and service delivery.
The forum brings together LGBTI community leaders plus senior researchers on LGBTI issues in the aged and health care sectors, to share perspectives on good practice insights for real needs as well as strategies to build community and sector capacity. For more information about the event, please visit the conference website:

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Liam Leonard, GLHV: What difference being LGBTI makes

  1. 1. Splitting the difference: Affirming the lives of older LGBTI people Liam Leonard Director GLHV
  2. 2. The three AGES or PHASES of being and doing LGBTI Repulsion Fear and loathing Tolerance An effect of heterosexist discrimination Affirmation A positive value
  3. 3. Acknowledge work of all my colleagues at GLHV and in particular: • Dr Catherine Barrett, Manager Sexual Health and Aging • Carolyn Whyte, Research Assistant Sexual Health and Aging and • Dr Jude Comfort, School of Public Health, Curtin University WA Changing expectations: Discrimination, depression, anxiety and older LGBTI Australians (2013, in process)
  4. 4. Phase 1 - Repulsion
  5. 5. The word lesbian was never mentioned….I just said I was leaving with Ann and the response I got was … ‘You’re insane’. My parents actually came over to where I was living…got me into the car…They said ‘You’re a sick person: we’re going to take you to Pell’. I knew a trans woman who told her GP she was transsexual and he said, ‘Oh, just sit there and I’ll go and get the local reverend to come and exorcise you’.
  6. 6. When I was 14 my mother knew there was something different but she spoke to my father and they went to see a doctor and they put me in [a psychiatric institution]. I was in [there] for nearly four months having shock treatment to try and cure me of being the way I was feeling
  7. 7. Phase 2 - Tolerance We have no problem with the gays and lesbians as long as they don’t…
  8. 8. Mum said she hoped I wouldn’t be one of those ‘out’ gay people….I said ‘What do you mean by out lesbian?’ And she said, ‘Go along and do marches and that sort of thing’.
  9. 9. Phase 3 - Affirmation
  10. 10. Being LGBTI valued as a social good in its own right • Growing support for same-sex marriage • Development of a national LGBTI-inclusive practice accreditation framework (Rainbow tick) • Inclusion of LGBTI people as a special needs group in the Commonwealth Aged Care Act (2013)
  11. 11. Splitting the difference My father said to me ‘You know, you’re not who you think you are’ The first year we separated was like as though I was watching somebody else living, it wasn’t really me Write, write. Write letters to everyone, write it all down how you feel, write poetry, anything that gets your feelings out of yourself
  12. 12. I suppose you get used to comparmentalising your life…being different depending on which social or work situation you’re in. That’s not really discrimination, is it? becomes second nature to you to compartmentalise.
  13. 13. The heterosexist dividend I thought for my own self that I had to distance myself from my family completely I think one of the hardest things I’ve found was like [at] my niece’s wedding…you all come with partners and what do you do now? …So you quietly make an excuse not to go…in those days I just literally had to say [to my partner] ‘Well, we can’t go together ‘cause I don’t want them to know’ A lot of them have tended to hide their sexuality…because of the generations they grew up with. Not everyone is bold and brave and out.
  14. 14. I limped away thinking well, I want to do the least amount of damage I can do to my kids and if this means that there’s going to be all this drama over visits… I’ll be the one that suffers…I met up with my son after 30 years…. When Loretta and I moved into a flat mum was really upset, I think she just accepted it quietly but I still couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t break her heart…I never did tell my mother.
  15. 15. When I was 24 I met John my partner of 44 years…. I was feeling it [pressure] from John. He was ashamed of being found out he was a homosexual so I thought I couldn’t tell anybody I was homosexual because I didn’t want to hurt him
  16. 16. Revisiting our three AGES – embedded and emergent discourse Affirmation A positive value Tolerance An effect of heterosexist discrimination Repulsion Fear and loathing
  17. 17. organisational The GLBT-inclusive practice line Standard 1: Developing organisational capacity Standard 2: Ensuring cultural safety Standard 3: Consulting LGBTI consumers Rainbow Tick Standard 4: Providing professional development Standard 5: Responding to disclosure and documentation Standard 6: LGBTI inclusive access and intake processes ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ individual One size I do that already/ I treat everyone the same Stereotypes All gay people are… Tolerance I don’t mind the gays as long as… Hatred I hate gay people…