Tag Archives: older lesbians

Artists Use Portraits Of Older Queer Women From Capitol Hill For A Gentrification Art Project.

Capitol Hill in Seattle is one of America’s largest gay neighbourhoods. During the 1960’s a large gay residential settlement began and the area soon became known as Seattle’s gayborhood.

In an attempt to raise awareness for the gentrification and loss of queer space, artists got together and created the In This Place 206 art project to remind people of the queer history behind Capitol Hill.

Gentrification, a term used to describe a process of renovation and revival in which affluent residents move in causing low income families to become displaced, has been steadily happening in Capitol Hill and many of the LGBTQ community have since left.


The 9 women used in the project were all former residents of the LGBTQ community in Capitol Hill and one of the Artists involved in the project, Nilda Brooklyn told CHS newspaper:

 It’s really about taking up the space saying, ‘As you walk by this place, as you stand on this street corner, I stood here, I had a life here, I hung out here, I got my heart broken here. It’s really just a reminder that there’s always somebody who came before us.”

Nilda teamed up with another artist, photographer Adrian Leavitt and asked the 9 queer women who agreed to have their portrait used, three questions — their name, how they identified and where on Capitol Hill was important to them and why. They then placed the portraits around the neighbourhood to see how the public would interact with them.


Nilda said the idea came from her own upbringing:

Having grown up in the queer and lesbian community, Brooklyn is connected to many older queer women. Those direct connections ended up being the subjects for the project.”

Some of the portraits got damaged or had graffiti sprayed on them, but the longest one put up on 15th Avenue lasted 15 weeks.  The photograph’s had #inthisplace206 printed on them in order that the artists could see via social media how the public reacted to them.


Nilda went on to say that the area has changed so much and the LGBTQ community and its queer space is diminishing slowly. She says she also feels strongly about reminding people of the history of Capitol Hill.

I think it’s important to document queer history, and I also think it’s really important in the queer community to have multi-generational connections.”

The artists plan to photograph more women for the project in the future.

Age(ing) And Invisibility: What Can You Do?

We all change; our bodies change, our health, our looks, our view towards life, our friends and family. What happens when this becomes a problem in the eyes of society? How can we be more supportive of people from our community once they get older?

When we go through life, as LGBTQI people, we struggle to make a good living for our families, our friends and us. We face barriers in healthcare, in education, with our workplace community- we do our best to overcome them and thrive.

When we talk about senior LGBTQI people we must first realise that in a lot of their cases we talk about people with life situations that differ in many ways of what a young person goes through today in most societies.

Finding out you were LGBTQI when you were young during communism or war, poverty, growing up in traditional patriarchal families or having to work on the fields to support yourself and your family definitely created a totally different approach to one’s identity.

International organisations such as ILGA Europe have started recently to tackle this issue and raise awareness about these realities, with a focus on health.


The health system and the LGBTQI community are not very good friends since inequality still exists, but we are slowly improving this relationship. Activists are working hard to make sure we can all, no matter our age, sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy these services without fear of being discriminated.

But on a more grassroots level, what can each of us do?

Talk to elderly LGBTQI people from your community.

They have an enormous history behind, including that of your local community. This histories need to be known, shared and appreciated.

Many LGBTQI people lived through harsh times when they were your age so we have tons of things to learn from them. And most probably they also want to be up to date with how has the community changed, what are the most important struggles. So why not share?

Offer your help!

Getting older is not easy. Your body does all these tricks on you, and sometimes fails to help you in all the ways you need. This is why a had of help for daily errands will definitely be appreciated. Or offering to cook a meal once a week for them- it also gives you the chance to have one hour of intergenerational gossip about recent events in the queer community.

However, please keep in mind that, the fact that a person is older, doesn’t necessary mean they need your help- so ask before assuming anything about their life.

Visit them regularly.

If LGBTQI elder people are alone or just with their partner, in their houses, they might enjoy a cup of tea with somebody so they can share what they have been up to, what is it that they struggle with, what great things happened etc. We all like to know we have not been forgotten!

If people are living in a care facility then visits are sometimes the thing that keeps them connected to the rest of the world.

Many elderly queers are not out to their families, to their new friends in the care facility or to the staff.

Imagine that after a life of struggling with your identity, the harsh reality of being discriminated and marginalised, self acceptance and being proud to be you, now you need to get into the closet again!

That’s definitely not cool! And until all care facilities and hospitals are inclusive, we can be the ones that, by visiting, can provide a much-needed space for self-expression as a queer person.

Include them in the events you make.

If you are an activist, community organiser or event planner that works for/with the queer community don’t forget to include elderly people in your events. Sometimes all they need is a space to come and meet other elderly people, support each other, enjoy themselves and have fun.

Other times, they would like to get to be more connected to the wider community, share some wisdom words and learn from the youngsters. Make sure all your events are accessible, as some people have disabilities. You can always learn more about what would make your events inclusive, directly from them.

We can only learn from each other’s experiences and wisdom, so let’s value our elders and don’t forget their huge contributions to the way LGBTQI rights have advanced through the years!

And remember, we all age, so why not start building this caring culture from now so we can all benefit from it?

Elderly Lesbian Abused By Other Retirement Home Residents For Being Gay

Lambada legal his has filed a federal lawsuit against a senior housing facility for allowing discrimination and abuse towards one of their senior lesbian residents. Marsha Marie Wetzel has claimed she has been verbally and physically abused by other residents since they discovered she was gay.

Marsha claimed that when another resident found out she had been with her female partner for other 30 years and they had raised a son together word travelled fast and the community, that had always been friendly towards her up until that point, suddenly became nasty, judgemental and abusive towards her.

Marsha explained that she had been with her partner Judy for 30 years when she died of cancer and her partner’s family refused to recognise her as Judy’s partner. They seized Judy’s property and assets and evicted Marsha, leaving her with no choice but to seek help from social services.


This story is far more common than people realise. Many of us fail to enter a legal civil partnership either because it is not recognised or allowed where we live or we do not think it’s necessary.

But unfortunately if something happens to your partner and you have no will or no recognised status as a couple very often assets are given to the deceased person’s family, leaving the surviving partner with nothing.

Marsha finally plucked up the courage to do something about the abuse and she spoke to administrators at the facility, who she claimed ignored her pleas and she became even more marginalized and alienated.

Karen Loewy, Senior Attorney and Seniors Program Strategist for Lambda Legal says the housing facility calls itself a ‘community of caring’ but this is far from what they are portraying. Lowey said:

The facility and its staff have ignored our client’s pleas for help after being harassed and attacked because she is a lesbian and because she is a woman who loved and created a family with another woman for thirty years,”

Marsha stated that she could sense things were going to get worse for her as time went on.

Many people displayed, ‘gay hate’ and there were a handful of residents I could tell were really going to give me trouble.”

Karen Loewy highlights the problem for older LGBT members by stating:

Finding housing that is accepting and welcoming is a real challenge for LGBT older people, so much so that many seniors feel forced to hide who they really are. Being forced back into the closet doesn’t allow seniors in our community to age with dignity.”

This is a problem that really shouldn’t be playing a part in today’s society and we owe it to ourselves and our fellow LGBT members to make sure we highlight this problem and fight against it. It’s also worth looking at your current status with your partner and try to cover for all eventualities to ensure you or your loved one never ends up in a situation like this because you didn’t make a simple trip to a lawyer and do whatever you can legally to protect each other should one of you die unexpectedly. As horrible as it sounds, we can’t always rely on other people to do the right thing as sometimes prejudice is so deep rooted people are unable to acknowledge our relationships with our partners no matter how long we have been together and no matter how much love we have for each other.

Questions Young Lesbians Have For Older Lesbians (VIDEO)

In the short interview, a younger couple – Niki and Kelsie – ask a series of questions to an older lesbian couple – Robin and Madonna – about what it’s like to be in a long term monogamous relationship in the gay community.

Robin and Madonna – who have been dating for over 12 years – share a range of advice, from how to stay faithful, to what it was like to go through the menopause together.


The two couples also discuss what it was like to be out and gay in the 70s and 80s when most people were still in the closet.

Asked how they met other gay people, Madonna replies:

For me it was a different trajectory, it was more, find each other in the bars, playing softball. There is a reason we have stereotype’s – we played softball.”

The couple also take the opportunity to poke fun at the cat loving lesbian stereotype.


We have four cats.”

Watch the video below;

Love Wins: Lesbian Couple Celebrate Their First Wedding Anniversary After 73 Years Together

Alice “Nonie” Dubes and Vivian Boyack made headline news last year, as they were finally able to marry after 72 year relationship.

One year later, and their first-anniversary celebration were a much simpler affair, with only two close friends as guest, the menu cherry pie à la mode and iced tea.

Dubes and Boyack, 91 and 92 years old respectively, had been a couple for 72 years before they were married in a small ceremony in Iowa in September 2014.

Alice Dubes and Vivian Boyack 02

It was the first time their relationship had been made public.

Talking to the Guardian, Dubes said

It’s been fine, because we were together for 72 years before. We just couldn’t get married. Nothing’s changed. Still the same – very good.”

In the year since Dubes and Boyack married, same-sex marriage has become legal nationwide. That was a change few predicted in the early 2000s, let alone when the couple met in the 40s.

Alice Dubes and Vivian Boyack 03

Dubes thinks the couple’s closest friends knew about the relationship, though it was not discussed until their marriage at the First Christian Church in Davenport, where they have lived since 1947.

Iowa was one of the first states to make same-sex marriage legal, when the state’s ban was struck down in April 2009.

The couple are not interested in discussing the decades they have spent together.

We’re old and grouchy. We get that way sometimes, but just think how many years we’ve known each other.”

Since their story made international headlines, Dubes and Boyack have declined press requests and book offers, communicating their wishes through a man they have known since they were both 19.

They spend most of their days as they did before they were married – maintaining their four-room apartment and zipping around their retirement village on electric scooters.

Alice Dubes and Vivian Boyack 04

LGBT Elder Americans Act Reintroduced by Senior U.S. senator

The senior U.S. senator from Colorado reintroduced on Tuesday legislation intended to aid LGBT elder Americans, which continue to face difficulty in accessing resources afforded generally to the older population.


Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the omnibus bill, which is known as LGBT Elder Americans Act and aims to make additional resources available to elder LGBT Americans. The bill, which would build upon the Older Americans Act, would designate LGBT seniors as a vulnerable population and permanently establish a National Resource Center on LGBT Ageing. Bennet said in a statement the legislation is important because as the number of Americans age 65 and older surges over the next few decades, the number of LGBT older adults is expected to double to 3 million by 2030.

Bennet said…

As baby boomers continue to age, it’s important that we understand the unique needs of this diverse generation. For LGBT seniors, questions about health care and financial issues can be particularly difficult without a trustworthy advocate to help guide them through these challenging decisions. And now, with full marriage equality thankfully the law of the land, many older LGBT couples have additional planning decisions to make.

This bill will help ageing service organisations assist older LGBT adults and their caregivers. Above all, it will provide LGBT seniors and their families the peace of mind that their best interests are being considered.”

Sen. Michael Bennet 01

Joining Bennet as original co-sponsors of the legislation are Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who’s known as a champion of LGBT rights.

According to a fact sheet accompanying the bill, many Area Agencies on Aging, or local organisations that seek to foster independence in aging, offer LGBT cultural competence training to their staff, but very few offer LGBT-specific programs or outreach.

Less than half say they would be able to offer or fund LGBT-specific services, the fact sheet says. The legislation was first introduced in 2012 during the 112th Congress. In the previous Congress, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced LGBT-inclusive legislation inclusive to the reauthorisation the Older Americans Act through fiscal year 2018, but neither her version, nor the Republican version of the legislation, saw any traction.

According to a fact sheet, The LGBT Elder Americans Act would make numerous accommodations for LGBT older Americans.

Michael Adams, executive director of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, praised the introduction of the bill, but anticipated difficulty in passage going forward.

On the heels of yesterday’s LGBT-inclusive White House Conference on Aging, it’s now time for Congress to act to address the many ways that federal aging services and programs are not effectively addressing the needs of LGBT older people .

That’s why SAGE is so grateful to Sen. Bennet for his leadership in re-introducing the LGBT Elder Americans Act. While it’s no secret that it’s difficult to move legislation through Congress in this polarised environment, the proposed act should be common sense for anybody interested in fairness for LGBT people.”

The White House Looks to Protect Elder LGBT Americans with New Anti-Discrimination Housing Policy

The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Monday issued new guidance on rules to ensure that gay people are protected from discrimination in federally subsidised housing, particularly in programs designed for older Americans.

The White House hosted a conference this week, something that is done only once every decade. The previous conference had over 1200 delegates in attendance, with one single delegate representing the entire LGBT community.

This year, they chose to downsize the event, and invite around 200 delegates to discuss the problems of elderly Americans.

Four of those invitees represented older LGBT people, including Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE).

HUD used the conference to announce new anti-discrimination protections for elderly LGBT Americans.

The Washington Post reports that the new HUD policy expands the department’s Equal Access Rule, designed to protect people who live in federal housing or use federal rent vouchers.

The Equal Access Rule said a person could not be evicted or refused accommodation because of sexual orientation. The new policy clarifies that no owner or administrator of HUD-subsidized housing or FHA-assisted financing may even inquire about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant. Violators would be subjected to HUD sanctions, and there is no religious freedom exemption.

SAGE’s Michael Adams praised the new policy:

HUD’s announcement is a strong step toward ending discrimination against LGBT people in federally supported senior housing.

With a recent report showing that housing discrimination against LGBT elders is rampant, this is just the kind of leadership we need from the federal government. Now we need to make sure that these anti discrimination protections are effectively implemented.”

The new policy goes into effect immediately.

Wise Words From LGBT Seniors: ‘Be proud’ (Video)

In honour of LGBT Pride Month, Mashable visited the Midtown Manhattan location of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) to chat with four LGBT elders about their experiences within the community.


Ageing members of the LGBT community are often overlooked and under appreciated within our modern movement, in favour of younger generations.

It’s rare we actually hear people who lived through our most profound periods — the Stonewall Riots, the HIV/AIDS crisis and countless other moments that led to major victories in LGBT rights.

From touching coming out stories to advice for LGBT youth today, these four folks had a lot to share — and we are more than happy to listen.

‘Open Windows’ Documentary Interviews Older European Lesbians

While being a lesbian in modern day society isn’t easy by a long shot, it is substantially better than what it once was. These days, there’s lesbian representation that is diverse across continents, races, age groups and gender presentation. There are also Pride events and it is now accepted for politicians, companies and celebrities to support the LGBT community rather than shun them. In fact, if you aren’t on the side of LGBT equality, you’re usually a minority in that opinion.

But before the turn of the century, these things were all but a pipe dream. There was a time not so long ago when not only did lesbians have no rights protecting their identities, but they didn’t even have words to describe their sexuality either; how could you know you were a lesbian when a) people didn’t like to talk about it and b) there were no lesbians in TV shows or movies who you could relate to?

Many older lesbians have seen this new era of progressive opinion and LGBT acceptance develop within society, yet they have also felt the hardships of living in a society that even at the best of times, couldn’t accept them.

In a new documentary from Michèle Massé called ‘Open Windows’, we hear what it’s like to be an older lesbian from four older lesbians themselves.

All four of the women in the film are from Europe: there’s a couple named Micheline and Jocelyne who live together in Paris and then there are two women who live in Madrid, Empar who’s married and Boti who’s divorced.

While it perhaps would have been nice to see a more regionally diverse bunch of people (attitudes towards lesbians in Western Europe will be greatly different to those in the UK or in Eastern European countries) each of the four women in Open Windows brings a unique perspective on the fight so far and what needs to happen next.


For example, Boti, having gone through a divorce from a same-sex partner, feels that same-sex divorce should also be talked about as much as same-sex marriage and that discussing that will help the entire thing seem normal. Empar, on the other hand, says that as she grew up in Francoist Spain (a totalitarian state) there was no reading material available about homosexuality and information was limited, so when she finally realised that she was a lesbian, she was relieved.


Meanwhile, Micheline and Jocelyne face their own set of troubles, such as the fact that Micheline struggled to come out until her sixties and Jocelyne holds the very real fear that people will react badly to her on the street or in her apartment building and that she will end up in a nursing home where the carers do not respect her identity.

Open Windows is currently playing in film festivals across the globe. Visit the film’s website for more information.

Late-Blooming Lesbians – Helen Mirren Outs Her Prime Suspect Character

In an interview in Event magazine, Dame Helen Mirren, who will turn 70 this summer, discussed her acclaimed role as Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison in the TV crime series Prime Suspect.



Asked what she imagines the character would be doing now, she replied that Tennison would have ‘gone gay’ in her retirement.

“She’s a lesbian, living with a very attractive partner. Happier than she’s ever been, but still not entirely content. She gave up the drinking the moment she left office and never went back to it. She does yoga. I would imagine she’s still working, either advising or lecturing, I don’t think she can stop – she’s too driven. The police retire quite young so she’s still got a life ahead of her. There are limitless opportunities for Jane.”


More Sex, Means More Brain Power (So Science Says)

Do you want to keep your brain active as you get older? Then the answer is simple – have more sex.

As you get older, brain function starts to slow down. Your memory starts to fade, and you can’t remember things like you used to. It’s one of the biggest and scariest things about getting older because memory loss really erases a person’s identity.

Well, good news guys – a new study has found that a good way to fight memory loss is to have more sex. And to be fair, they do say the brain is a very important sexual organ, so that does make sense.

Also: 11 Awesome Older Women with Tattoos

A study conducted by The Manchester University surveyed 1,700 people between the ages of 58 and 98. Turns out, the test subjects who were still sexually active also had better brain power. The study also found a third of women over the age of 70 are still getting it on.

This isn’t the first study that has shown sex keeps the brain healthy. A 2010 study found sexual activity promotes cell growth in the hippocampus, the area in the brain that controls long-term memory.

Myths about Sex as you age debunked…

Hormone changes, less orgasms? Here are some facts about sex when you’re older.


LGB Seniors Face High Levels of Homophobia, Study Shows

One of the biggest challenges faced by our aging population is how they will be cared for as they get older. One top of physical and mental health stability, some elderly people may find themselves having to go to care institutions or relying on the help of friends and family to get by.

Consider the problems of an aging queer population then who don’t just have to face care issues but must also consider homophobia and discrimination when making their future care decisions.

Given that many of the UKs senior were alive before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967, many may have faced persecution for their sexuality in the past. They may have even been kicked out of homes, fired from jobs or just generally been mistreated because of it. So it’s understandable that in later life, as the UK becomes more accepting of LGBT people, that LGB seniors would want to finally be treated with respect.


Sadly though, according to a Stonewall survey about the matter, not only are LGB seniors facing high levels of homophobia, but they are also deeply concerned that the care available to them cannot accommodate or understand their needs as LGB people.

According to their findings (which were taken from LGB people over the age of 55), LGB seniors are more likely to have histories of poor mental health, are more likely to suffer from anxiety (one in three people) and depression (two in five people), are more likely to take drugs (1 in 11 LGB seniors as opposed to 1 in 50 heterosexual seniors) and drink alcohol more often too (45% drink regularly in comparison to 31% of heterosexuals). Their report also stated that half of all LGB seniors feel as though their sexuality will have a negative impact on their life as they get older.

John, from London told Stonewall that “There is a severe lack of understanding about the particular needs of older lesbian and gay people, especially from some faith-based organisations that provide care services”, meanwhile Rita from the South East added that “Although things are improving, there is still a lot of ignorance at least, homophobia at worst, among health and social care people.”

While there’s hope that a lack of understanding could be improved with proper training and so on, the UK’s population needs this assistance now and cannot wait years down the line when a care worker suddenly realises that LGB discrimination has no right being in the workplace. Furthermore, the life expectancy of UK citizens is now a massive 81 years and is expected to rise with improvements to medical treatment – this means that more of us will need care than ever and that more of us stand a likelihood of being discriminated against because of our identities.

It’s unclear just what’s being done to combat this but with Stonewall being such a prominent group, there’s hope that their new study will change the homophobic tides.

Source: Stonewall

Befriending Scheme For Older Lesbians Is Launched In The UK

The Labrys Trust is a registered charity run by older lesbians, and works to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of older lesbians living in the Calderdale and Bradford areas.

They have recently set-up a befriending scheme for isolated and lonely older lesbians living in Calderdale and Bradford in the UK.

“As older lesbians ourselves, we recognise that growing older may bring social isolation and this may be particularly felt by older lesbians in a heterosexual world. The Labrys Trust Befriending scheme enables lesbians and bisexual women to be open about their sexuality and talk to a befriender who is also lesbian. 

Any older lesbian, bisexual or any woman questioning their sexuality can be introduced to one of our befrienders who will then visit you for an hour or so each week, usually in your own home. This companionship could help to reduce feelings of isolation and enhance confidence and wellbeing.”

The Labrys Trust

The trust also provides support and services to address the needs of older lesbians.

“We have a confidential telephone line to answer questions and provide information, and host a social group that meets in Todmorden. 

We network with other lesbian organisations so that we can direct you to related services and we carry out research to enable us to influence change. You can find out more about the Trust and its work on our website, www.thelabrystrust.com.”

The Labrys Trust

If you would like to find out more please take a look at The Labrys Trust website.

Watch : Heartfelt Interview With Lesbian Couple Who have Been together 72 Years

We covered this story last week, but watch and listen to Vivian Boyack and Alice “Nonie” Dubes  talk about their life together.

More than 70 years after beginning their relationship, the couple finally got married.

“I guess at 90, now we don’t have to worry about anyone saying anything or doing anything about us. And so I think that we’ll be happy now.”

Vivian Boyack and Alice “Nonie” Dubes

Together 48 Years, Lesbian Couple Fights North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Ban

On the summer night Ellen Gerber and Pearl Berlin committed to spending their lives together, the No. 1 song was “When A Man Loves A Woman.”

Lyndon B. Johnson was president. NASA had just landed the first unmanned probe on the moon.

“We’re still in love, after 48 years. We still can’t begin the day without a good cuddle.”

Ellen Gerber

June 2, 1966, is engraved in Roman numerals on the identical gold bands the women exchanged during a religious wedding at their Greensboro synagogue last year on the anniversary of that long-ago night. They followed three months later with a civil ceremony in Maine.

But under North Carolina law, they might as well be strangers.

That’s why Gerber and Berlin are the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

“They can see that in us, that being gay or lesbian is just the same as being straight. You just love somebody of your own sex. Otherwise, there’s no difference. … We want to be recognized for what we are – a married couple.”

Ellen Gerber

Last month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals – with jurisdiction over five states, including North Carolina – struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. On Wednesday, the appellate panel refused to delay its ruling, possibly clearing the way for gay marriages to begin next week in the Old Dominion.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has said it would be “futile” to continue defending his state’s similar law. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP legislative leaders urged Cooper, a Democrat, to continue the fight, but gave no indication they will defend the ban themselves.

There are real-world worries that come with being gay and growing older. And time is not on the High Point couple’s side.

Berlin, 89, fell down some stairs before Christmas, hitting her head, breaking three ribs and enduring her third hospital stay in two years.

Gerber, a 78-year-old retired lawyer, long ago drafted Berlin’s health-care power of attorney. But a piece of paper is no guarantee hospital staff would immediately afford her the same spousal rights that would be automatic if she were married to a man.

“It’s very scary, that something could happen to Pearl and I could be kept from her. They might not let me in the emergency room with her. They might not let me help make decisions. … It would be just horrendous if I wasn’t able to be there with her, holding her hand. I would die if I couldn’t do that.”

Ellen Gerber

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, same-sex marriage proponents around the country won nearly two dozen legal victories. Such marriages are now allowed in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Legal experts predict North Carolina’s first same-sex marriage licenses could be issued within months, depending on the legal process.

But Gerber and Berlin worry they might not have much time. Their lawyers plan to file a brief asking a federal judge in Greensboro to grant immediate recognition to same-sex marriages.

“Marriage is a statement that you make in front of your family, your friends, your community. It has a meaning that tells the world who you are. It’s a very fundamental part of someone’s identity,”

Ellen Gerber

The walls of the home they built in High Point are covered with art and photos from their adventures. They visited all seven continents, even mingling with penguins on an Antarctic ice shelf.

Berlin is a perfectionist. Gerber admits she’s something of a slob.

They met in 1964, when Gerber visited a friend in Detroit who invited Berlin for brunch. Berlin taught at Wayne State University. Gerber was headed to graduate school at the University of Southern California.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but they had a lot in common. They both taught physical education. They were both “nice Jewish girls from Brooklyn.” They’d never had much interest in boys.

“I had a crush on every female camp counselor I ever had. On every Girl Scout leader. On a couple of my teachers. I came home from my first summer where I was at camp for a month, and I wrote, `I love Sandy,’ on every page of my diary.”

Ellen Gerber

Over the next two years, with frequent calls and visits, their friendship evolved into love. Gerber landed a job at Berlin’s college.

On the long drive moving Gerber to Michigan, they stopped at a motel. Conversation turned to where Gerber would live. That night, they decided to move in together.

They didn’t tell their families they were a couple, but didn’t hide it. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Gerber’s mother offered to buy a second bed. They declined. She started buying Berlin pajamas.

“She said, `We will never condone this,’ But she got to the point where she could laugh when I said, `But Mother. You always said all you cared about was that I marry a Jew, and I did.'”

Ellen Gerber

Berlin had inadvertently outed herself years earlier, mistakenly sending her mother a love letter she had written to a woman. Her mother called.

“And she says, `Pearl, I just want to tell you something. I just finished reading today’s mail, and I just read your letter to Marian. It was very well written. I know you did not intend it for me. I want you to know your father will never see it and never hear a word about it.'”

Eventually, even Berlin’s father accepted their relationship, telling Gerber: `’Lennie. If you were a man, this would all be perfect,” Gerber recounted.

Berlin moved to a college in Massachusetts, and Gerber got work there too. Then, in 1971, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro asked Berlin to run a new doctoral program.

Gerber said school administrators made it clear they would never hire her. “They said we were `too open,'” Gerber said. “You were supposed to pretend.”

So Gerber went to law school and became a legal aid lawyer. Later, she helped gay and lesbian couples draft wills, powers of attorney and fill out tax returns.

Still, no legal document can provide the same protections as a marriage certificate. Gerber recounts cases where relatives fought deceased people’s gay partners over their estates, or excluded them from funerals.

While that isn’t a concern for Gerber, she worries Berlin’s death certificate will list her marital status as single.

“I think anybody who had lost a spouse would be devastated if somebody said, `Eh, this isn’t your spouse.'”

Ellen Gerber

Berlin chuckles at talk of her demise. She already has picked the font for invitations to their golden anniversary party – on June 2, 2016.

Veteran Lesbian Couple to Demand Married Recognition

Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz have been together for almost 30 years and are both aged over 65. This weekend they will travel from their home state, South Dakota, in order to get married in Minnesota, a state where same-sex marriage is permitted. They will then return to SD and demand that the government recognise their union.

According to the law firm hired by the couple, Robrahn, 68, and Rosenkranz, 72, will be married at Minneapolis’ Community of Christ Church by the city mayor. Their four children and six grandchildren will be present at the ceremony.

When they go back to South Dakota, the couple will begin litigation against the state government to repeal 2006 legislation banning same-sex marriage.

‘We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made,’ said Robrahn. ‘There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage. We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry.’

Robrahn and Rosenkranz are not the only gay couple pursuing a civil rights suit against the state of South Dakota. Their plaintiffs in this case are two other same-sex couples. There is hope amongst the LGBT community in the state that their legal action will lead to a broader amendment to the constitution of the state that will, once and for all, legalise and normalise same-sex marriage.

If such a law is passed, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota will be the only states in the Union not to either recognise same-sex marriages or to have an equality suit pending. According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, right across the USA there are 65 cases seeking marriage equality in over 30 states and territories.

Does Love Get Old For Lesbians?

Age is but a number… or is it? When an older woman hits on you, its hard to say how you should act or what you should say. No matter if you’re ready for the relationship or not, it’s best to be prepared for it.

Ideas for ‘Older’ Lesbians to find their match:

  1. Internet: The internet is becoming more and more popular for people to find the love of their life. Why not older women as well? There aren’t as many public scenes for the cougars, so online dating is more subtle and way more effective for their age group.
  2. Activities:  Clubs are a great way to find people in your age range, who also enjoy similar things that you do! It never hurts to try, right?
  3. Friends: Friends can help out a lot, whether you’re in public and spot someone cute, and you want them to start the conversation for you, or if something goes awry and you need backup.
  4. Spark: Keep your spark and charm! Just because your age is going up doesn’t mean you have to lose your charm. You need to keep the intimacy and love between you two, or the relationship will get boring really quickly.
  5. Who are you?: Who are you? What do you want from yourself and your Lesbian relationship? You need to know your goals and intents before getting into a committed relationship.
  6. Preparation: Physically and mentally, ladies! Be prepared for anything that may come up in your relationship. Finances are a good thing to have taken care of too.

Now if you are looking for the correct match for you, this may be exactly what you are looking for. Don’t give up on your love life… there’s someone out there for you, I promise!