Drag queen Vanessa Wagner is heading to the Sunshine Coast to host an LGBTIQ ageing forum later this month.
The Mardi Gras queen’s alter ego Tobin Saunders explained the free event on ageing well and future planning will be very valuable for our elders and loved ones.
The free I’m Still Standing LGBTI ageing forum is at the Buderim Memorial Hall on June 29.
“People can come along and get practical advice and referrals, as well as watch Vanessa making a fool of herself,” Saunders explained.
“I’m no spring chicken myself, but I’ve watched my parents age. Planning is a big issue for anybody entering that stage of their life.
“When you throw in the intersectionality of LGBTI people’s experiences, it can mean it all just goes into the too hard basket.”
Saunders said sadly, on entering aged care, some LGBTI elders feel they have to go back into the closet.
“Our elders have survived historical discrimination. Older gay men may fear they won’t get quality service or compassionate care that celebrates their lives,” he said.
“Or our trans folk may need special care to keep their dignity and continuity of life.
“We need to treat older people as people with agency, sexuality and desire. Society can treat older people like damaged goods, but I’ll tell you what, we’re not!”
Vanessa Wagners wants our elders to plan for the future
The Sunshine Coast LGBTI Community Ageing Network is organising the forum. Morning tea and lunch are provided.
Vanessa Wagner will get cosy on the couch with a geriatrician, solicitor, financial advisor, My Aged Care assessor and others.
“We want people to get practical advice and tips on navigating the tangled spaghetti of life planning and our aged care system,” Saunders said.
He said planning is important for everyone before we “get to the pointy end” of our lives.
“When you’re planning end-of-life documents, some people think it’s this ghoulish thing,” he said.
“But it’s smart to get it sorted before it’s too late. Do it before someone who doesn’t know you is making critical decisions.”
Saunders said he also wants the forum to be a social get-together on the Sunshine Coast.
“We always want community events like this forum to acknowledge who we are and feel safe but be social events as well,” he said.
“People are most welcome to come along and watch the colour and movement and get a free feed.
“You never know, that one social interaction or experience can be really be a life-changer. If you meet one person you hit it off with, then you’ve got a new mate to have coffee with.”
RSVPs are essential for the free I’m Still Standing LGBTI ageing forum. Email SSCP@raq.org.au or call 0418 674 125 by June 20.
Tobin Saunders is longtime community health advocate
Tobin Saunders has been an entertainer and advocate – both in and out of drag – for community health and Australians with HIV for decades.
Vanessa Wagner still appears at festivals and events, but twenty years ago, Saunders left Sydney for beautiful Northern New South Wales.
“I was tired of the inexorable gentrification of Sydney and the disembowelling of the art scene, replaced by apartments,” he said.
“I felt a bit sad at that. But I did just want a slower pace.
“I don’t need much, I can sit on the balcony and look at birds for hours.”
Recently, Saunders finished up a 12 year stint working in community health at ACON Northern Rivers.
Qld survey to benefit LGBTI elders in aged care services
Researchers from the University of Southern Queensland are also encouraging our older LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy Queenslanders and their carers to take part in an important survey.
The anonymous and confidential survey asks about our community’s needs and concerns regarding ageing and related services.
USQ Senior Lecturer Dr Lisa Beccaria said the research is important to ensure the state’s services remain responsive to the community’s needs.
“We need to understand what might be currently working well or areas for improvement for older people,” Dr Beccaria said.
“But equally what younger people feel that they may need more of as they age.”
The USQ survey, which closes on June 30, can be completed here.
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