The First LGBTQ Conference in Israel on Aging is a Huge Success

On December 28, 2017, over 200 people gathered at the Tel Aviv Gay Center for the historic Golden conference on issues concerning LGBTQ seniors. Co-sponsored and funded by A Wider Bridge, this conference drew a cross section of the LGBTQ community.

This watershed event, organized by the Beshela group for older lesbians, addressed issues of affordable housing, social support, latest research, medical care and legal rights for the LGBTQ elderly. The mood of the conference was upbeat and hopeful, bolstered by Israel queer entertainment icons Ivri Leder and Asi Levi, who kicked things off with music and comedy.

Presentations were held in the morning, and in the afternoon, small discussion groups formed to strategize on particular issues related to LGBTQ seniors.

Chen Arieli, Chair of the Aguda (Conference Partner), addresses the crowd.

Dr. Ruth Litvin, founder of Beshela, gives an inspiring speech.

An afternoon panel on building community.

The conference met the following goals: 1) join forces with LGBT groups in order to promote solidarity with the elderly in Israel’s community;  2) raise awareness to the special needs of the elderly and finding solutions to meet those needs; 3) and encourage elderly members to volunteer to assist and be assisted when in need.

Robin Rosenbaum of Beshela summed up the conference as a “watershed moment. This is the first time anything like this has happened in Israel.” She explained that the conference was open to all the letters in LGBTQ, and that people’s voices were truly heard.

Robin left the conference feeling very optimistic because, “Israel is a society that cares on a personal level about people. In Israel, people are willing to be flexible. They’ve got a lot of heart and caring.” As a social worker, she indicated that the Israeli social services are willing to change – they just need to be educated to the needs of the LGBTQ elderly.

The conference is an important step within a growing movement. The next step is to build coalitions and think tanks to address and serve the needs of the aging LGBTQ population, and implement recommendations so that the needs of this population are met.

The conference was supported by a $5,000 A Wider Bridge impact grant.