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C O N N E C T I C U T

Equality Begins At Birth! LGBTQ+ and Foster Care Opportunities

Out & About LGBTQ+ and Aging


Chief Editor Charlie Ortiz Design Influential Designs

September 14, 2019 Hartford, Connecticut

Stories Charlie Ortiz AARP Wheeler Clinic Intact Connecticut Pride Committee Pedro E. Segarra Lynette Correa Charlie Ortiz Luis Quiros Rosa Rivera Keith Rhoden, Jr. Web & Marketing

Influential Designs www.influentiald.com


Dear Friends,

We proudly celebrate our Fourth issue of OUTINCT.COM. Our magazine and Pride events continue to grow: and we are mindful of your incredible support over the years. This publication is also made possible through the many volunteers whom selflessly donate their time. Without their help this magazine would not be possible. We continue to celebrate Pride in our LGTBQ+ community and the many successes and accomplishments towards our struggle for respect and equality.

CONTENTS 04 About Us 06 Equality Begins At Birth! 11 LGBTQ+ and Foster Care Opportunities 24 Out & About 2018 30 LGBTQ+ and Aging

Last year, we embarked on a mission of strengthening the relationships and collaborations with our LGTBQ+ organizations. United we stand a better chance of attaining our respective goals. We can also respond quicker to situations that threaten our community. This past year, the OUTINCT.COM publication witnessed another record-breaking number of readers, both in our online and hard copy editions. The attendance at our Capitol City Pride events nearly doubled. More importantly, the participation of allies has significantly increased. Persons of all backgrounds and ages participated and our trans-community was ever-present. We know that many still live in isolation and fear, thus our work is ongoing. This year we will also focus on the youth and elderly members of our community. It is our aim to foster understanding amongst both of these age groups. We should join in acknowledging the contributions of our elders, while recognizing the incredible potential of our youth. I repeat, lets unite: stronger than ever before, strengthening our voices to support organizations that continue to lovingly service our community. Lets bridge the gaps and reconcile the differences for the success of all. Sincerely,

Charlie Ortiz

Chair of Hartford Capital Pride & Chief Editor of OUTINCT.COM LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 3


ABOUT US

OUTINCT.COM relies on the commitment of volunteers and donations to publish this guide to LGBTQ+ life in Connecticut. As a community, we all share in the success of this publication by promoting pride and awareness of LGBTQ+ community supporters during the year. When you make a donation or volunteer with us, you make a difference for your community as a whole. Why it matters? OUTINCT.COM showcases LGBTQ+ accomplishments and the best our community has to offer in Connecticut. We need you to make sure that “Pride, Love, Life and Equality� continue to be alive and well in Connecticut. We will continue to build awareness of our community in order to make Connecticut more inclusive.

www.claroct.org

Our work is about community! If you want to help make the world you live in better, then the best way is to join in! Make your voice heard and play your part. Volunteering, fundraising, or donating to OUTINCT.COM gives you the opportunity to get involved with the future and success of your community. By volunteering you can gain experience, develop new skills, improve your career prospects, build confidence and meet new, interesting people.

How can you help? Sponsor Events

If you own a business or work for a company that supports our community, please support PRIDE by having a booth or donating towards the event. Your support makes it possible for us to bring events like the PrideFest to Hartford. Events like these raise awareness and help the community as a whole by bringing attention to all the things to do and venues to visit here in Hartford.

Volunteer

There are a whole range of volunteer opportunities for all types of people of all abilities and skills. We need event staff, ad sales, fund raisers, public relations, marketing assistants, photographers, and administrative staff.

Want to know more? Please visit our website or write for more information on how to be part of the OUTINCT.COM team. Give us your contact information and let us know what volunteer opportunities interest you.

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LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 5


Begins

atBirth! By Brian D. Brown

6|


For many people in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride is a moment in our lives where we can forget the outside world and be ourselves, without fear of discrimination or retaliation. Although we come from many different walks of life, we’re united in the belief that equality is not a special right, rather it is a human right that should be granted to all. We seek to live free of the boxes that our own society has placed us in, and have the freedom to love who we choose, and to determine our own sexual experiences. I came out 20 years ago, while growing up in a suburb of Hartford. I was initially met with name-calling, bullying, and some fear for my own personal safety. Although Pride as we know it today didn’t exist locally then, I eventually found support in the company of understanding friends and family. It was during this time that I met my first boyfriend, which opened up a multitude of questions about my own sexual freedom. You see, I soon discovered that my boyfriend had a foreskin and I did not. When I began to research what I was missing, I learned that foreskin is not ‘just skin.’ I discovered that circumcision destroys a complex structure which includes the highly innervated ridged band and frenulum, and compromises approximately 15 square inches of highly specialized mobile skin in the adult male. It was a painful realization to learn that functional and pleasurable tissue was taken from my body when I was powerless to object.

While it appeared that my sexual revolution may have ended before it ever began, I soon learned about the concept of foreskin restoration. I discovered that although it’s not currently possible to regain all that is lost to circumcision, with some time and patience, a man can restore much of the form and function of the foreskin. Today, hundreds of thousands of men living with varying degrees of circumcision damage are choosing to reclaim their bodily autonomy through restoration. Whether you have your own children or not, we should all be advocates for keeping children intact regardless of their sex, and allowing them the right to determine how their own genitals should look and function when they are old enough to consent. It is impossible to advocate for the sexual freedom of adults while simultaneously advocating for cutting off intimate, erogenous, functional tissue from the genitals of a child. Thousands of people, many from within the LGBTQ+ community, are publicly standing for the rights of innocent babies and the adults they will become. I encourage you to connect with us, and help spread the word that equality begins at birth! The author is Director of Intact Connecticut, a local not-for-profit educational effort to raise awareness of genital autonomy, intact care, foreskin restoration, and the dangers of circumcision. Learn more at Facebook.com/IntactCT and IntactNetwork.org

LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 7


OPEN HEARTS “GLBT” MINISTRY at the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry MISSION STATEMENT The Open Hearts Ministry provides educational experiences to build greater visibility and understanding of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) experience within our Church community, and develop faith-building outreach programming to the diverse spectrum of the GLBT community. As a Catholic parish committed to social justice, Open Hearts Ministry of the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry actively provides and promotes faith opportunities that build community for those who have experienced spiritual disconnection. For more information email us at info@spsact.org.

The Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry at St. Patrick-St. Anthony 285 Church Street Hartford, CT 06103 860-756-4034  www.spsact.org  info@spsact.org

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LGBTQ+

&

Foster Care

A

s a recruiter, I attend many events in the community. I get a number of different questions but none that surprised me and changed my way of thinking as much as one in particular. As I stood at my table, with all my foster care info and small items with our logo on it, ready to disseminate to anyone that would take it, I was approached by an older gentleman. I could immediately tell he had something important to ask as he hurried over. Before I could introduce myself, the man asked, “Is it illegal for same sex-couples to adopt in Connecticut?” My immediate answer was, “Of course it’s not illegal. We have numerous same-sex couples in our program.” He then went on to tell me that this was, or previously had been, the case in many states. I assured him that this was not the case in Connecticut and that Wheeler Clinic Foster Care is proud of all the amazing work our same-sex foster parents do. He was happy to hear this, thanked me, and went on his way. But this wasn’t where this question ended for me.

Opportunities

by Chris Popilowski, Senior Foster Care Recruiter Wheeler Clinic

adoptive parents is quite obvious. Children need homes. In this state, we are facing a crisis, and we need homes for them more than ever. What we don’t need is to make outdated and unfair judgments of people based on how they identify. I look for good homes for our kids. A good home does not have anything to do with a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It isn’t about what they look like or where they live. It’s about who they are on the inside, how they treat people, and how much compassion and concern they have for those around them. And we can’t overlook the need for patience. How many caring and loving parents have not even approached the table because of a fear of rejection? Even one is too many. For information about foster care opportunities, call 860.793.7277 or email FosterCarePrograms@ Wheelerclinic.org or www.wheelerclinic.org/foster.

The magnitude of the problem of not allowing same-sex or transgender couples to be foster or LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 11


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LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 13


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Out & About

2018

HARTFORD PRIDEFEST

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Thousands of LGBTQ+ community members, their families and allies attended PrideFest 2018 in Hartford’s, Pratt Steet. They came together in celebration of love, peace, and pride. PrideFest has become the largest annual LGBTQ+ event in Connecticut. Pratt Street was filled with rainbows, music, and fun, which included over 80 vendors, live music, shows, local business booths and community organizations that sponsored the event. The day’s celebration ended with a late night GLOW party at Infinity Hall on Front Street, Hartford featuring Crystal Waters. Charlie Ortiz, the event’s coordinator, said “We have come together to celebrate our right to be ourselves and to thank our community supporters. We also want to send a message to Washington and the current administration that we will not go back to the way things were before. We are out and proud! Former Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra emceed the event, introducing speakers and performers including Connecticut’s 2018 candidate for governor Ted Lamont. We look forward to welcoming you again on Saturday, September 14, 2019, for our 5th annual PrideFest in Hartford. LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 25


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Connecticut Chapter Connecticut Chapter Connecticut Chapter Connecticut Chapter Friends Embracing Life

Friends Embracing Life A group of gay seniorEmbracing men and their Friends Life admirers A group of gay senior men and their admirers in an that offer you the opportunity to participate group ofof gay gay senior mento participate and their a that offer you the opportunity intheir an AA group senior men and ad active and dynamic socialsocial environment. active and dynamic environment. Friends Embracing Life

our WEB Siteto participa that offer offer you you the theVisit opportunity www.ctprimetimers.com that opportunity to participa www.ctprimetimers.com active and and dynamic dynamic social social environment. environment. active Visit our WEB Site

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LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 27


SCHOOLS ARE UNSAFE AND UNWELCOMING FOR THE MAJORITY OF LGBT STUDENTS

52%

85%

heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g. “that’s so gay”)

were verbally harassed because of their gender expression

62%

of transgender students were unable to use the school restroom that aligned with their gender Visit our website to learn how you can get involved and help end bullying/harassment in K-12 schools. GLSEN.org/Connecticut - Facebook.com/GLSENCT - Twitter: @GLSENCT - Instagram: @GLSENConnecticut

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E AR issues. Can you be their somebody? N E . ! T Become a foster parent today! M EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMEBODY E C F C A I N I Contact: AN HIVA child Y S needs you. P A S T I R OS Janier Caban-Hernandez H D K FO TWe for more information. N have several LGBTQ+ and A W S I O K R 860-236-4511 x3814 transitioning youth in need of H AC H foster families who can understand BL HIG YOU AT HOW and help them with their unique S issues. Can you be their somebody? L L ’ Become a foster parent today! WE 28 |

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LGBTQ+

Aging &

M

any people have either used or been told the figure of speech “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube” to illustrate the difficulty of going back once something has been done.

While it may seem like a stretch of the analogy, try to imagine living a life in which you felt open and comfortable with being who you are with your family, partner, friends and others, only to feel a need to put that life back into the proverbial “closet” as you age. That is the necessity many LGBTQ+ elders in the United States are being forced to confront. The generation of pioneers who created and carried the flag in a charge to gain rights, eradicate discrimination and change laws, now often choose to hide their sexuality out of fear for their safety or quality of life. According to a Gallup poll, the percentage of American adults born before 1964 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has declined since 2012, when Gallup began tracking the data. Despite this trend, a record 4.5 percent of American adults overall identified as LGBT in 2017, up from 3.5 percent in 2012. The growth is being driven by millennials, whose self-reporting jumped from 5.2 percent in 2012 to 8.1 percent in 2017. While the growth points to a brighter future, the six-year trend shines a spotlight on a troubling present. The median age of the nation is rising, increasing from 35.3 years in 2000 to 37.9 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Connecticut, with a median age of 40.3, is the seventh oldest state in the nation and aging. The number of res-

idents over 60 in the state is projected to hit more than one in four by 2030. The estimated number of older LGBTQ+ residents in Connecticut is 24,000 and, like the rest of the population, that number is growing. While AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for people 50-plus, we are also on the frontlines advocating on issues that impact residents of all ages. Our membership of nearly 38 million nationwide and over 600,000 here in Connecticut represent every walk of life and reflect diverse populations. We recognize the only way to be successful in our efforts to serve and advocate for the residents is to ensure that the views and interests of all segments of the population – across race and ethnicity, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity – are reflected and included. In a multifaceted approach, AARP Connecticut teams up with diverse organizations around the state, including LGBTQ+, to give everyone a voice and provide information that is relevant to them. As part of this, we provide information and resources on important topics; advocacy on state and federal issues; quality volunteer opportunities; and special access to local AARP events, programs and services. Statistics that make people pause, gasp and speak-up for change are easily found on the internet, but more than reading words, it’s seeing the people being impacted, hearing their stories and feeling their heartbreak that often leads to the foundation of a movement and sustained motivation. The award-winning documentary Gen Silent is one tool that can do that and AARP Connecticut is showcasing the 2010 film to as many people as possible at locations across the state. LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 31


The critically-acclaimed Gen Silent, directed and produced by Stu Maddux, follows the lives of six LGBT seniors over a one-year period in the Boston area who must decide to either stay open about their sexuality or hide it from out of concern for their safety or quality of life because of the religious objection, bullying and abuse they face. The documentary premiered at the Boston LGBT Film Festival and has won multiple awards, including Audience Award for Best Documentary in the 2011 Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

sues are often overlooked by both the community at large and within the LGBTQ community itself.” There is also now a movable senior center that travels around the state to raise awareness of the issues facing LGBTQ+ elders. The goal of the LGBT Moveable Senior Center – a pilot partnership among senior centers in the Greater Hartford area with goals to expand statewide – is to advocate for and provide resources to help create LGBT inclusive aging services.

AARP Connecticut’s first Gen Silent event was in June of 2014 in front of approximately 100 people at the Avon Senior Center. Since then, AARP Connecticut has hosted nearly two dozen film screenings for more than 1,200 people at places such as community and senior centers, churches, libraries, health organizations, and on multiple secondary education campuses, including Quinnipiac University, University of Saint Joseph, University of Hartford, a variety of University of Connecticut campuses and more.

“As senior center directors, we knew we needed to have specific programming for the LGBT community,” said Jennifer Bennett, Avon Senior Center coordinator. “As a social worker, being culturally aware is in our ethics and making sure older adults of all communities feel welcome in our senior centers is important, necessary, our job and most importantly in our hearts. We want to open our senior center doors so older LGBT adults do not feel their best option to is to go back in the closet.”

“It is crucial to have multigenerational events in which people of every age can share their ideas and opinions if we are going to move this conversation forward and effect change,” said Nora Duncan, AARP Connecticut state director. “Participating in conversations that are representative of multiple perspectives will inspire and help us reach our common goal to build healthier and inclusive environments for all.”

Charlie Ortiz, chair of Hartford Capital Pride and PrideFest coordinator, wrote in the October 2017 issue of Out in CT, “Once again we have come together to celebrate our right to be ourselves and to thank our friends and supporters for making our latest achievement possible…. We are out and proud! We have the right like all to the pursuit of happiness.”

It took a generation to advance gay rights and achieve monumental legal victories, yet we are only in the early stages of an advocacy effort to help eliminate the factors causing LGBTQ+ elders to hide their identity out of fear and concern.

PrideFest 2017 was the largest LGBTQ+ event in Connecticut. There were over 70 vendors, live music, shows, local business booths and community organizations that sponsored the event.

It may be early, but we have noticed positive developments since 2014. There has been an increase in the number of people who identify as LGBTQ+ volunteering with AARP Connecticut. Our volunteers are the voices and faces in their communities who can deliver the messages best. They are vital to our work.

While social acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way since this documentary was filmed, older LGBTQ+ adults still face challenges when it comes to aging and caregiving. LGBTQ+ elders are less likely than heterosexual adults to frequent many of the places older people socialize, access entitlement programs and avoid medical care out of fear of harassment and discrimination. Consider the following data from Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) that help illustrate why this film and this topic are important:

“Volunteering with AARP Connecticut has offered us a way to give back to our community and raise awareness of the unique stressors of aging experienced by LGBTQ elders,” said Darlene Dunbar and Carol Bozena, AARP Connecticut volunteers. Darlene, who is also a member of AARP Connecticut’s Executive Council, added, “As lesbians who have been in a 36-year partnership, including nine years of being legally married, and as retired Social Workers, we were well aware that LGBTQ aging is32 |

• There are an estimated 3 million LGBT adults over 50 in the United States and a projected 7 million by 2030.


• LGBT elders are twice as more likely to age alone and four times less likely to have children than older heterosexual adults. • Research suggests older adults who are socially isolated experience cognitive decline and are at risk for more medical and mental health complications. Nearly 60 percent of LGBT older adults report feeling a lack of companionship; over 50 percent reported feeling isolated from others. • Older LGBT adults are more likely to become caregivers than those who are heterosexual. Twenty-one percent of LGBT elders have provided care to friends, while only 6 percent of older heterosexual adults have done so. • About 20 percent of LGBT people avoid medical care out of fear of discrimination. Nearly one-third of transgender people do not have a regular doctor and 50 percent have taught their medical providers about transgender care. The LGBT Aging Center published a survey to capture the opinions and experiences of LGBT elders in long-term care facilities. The results from the 769 respondents – ranging from people who identified themselves as LGBT adults, family members or friends, and people in the industry – are very telling. Nearly 90 percent predicted staff would discriminate against an LGBT elder who was living openly. Unfortunately, the feeling isn’t just with staff as a majority felt other residents would discriminate (81 percent) or isolate (77 percent) an LGBT resident. Because discrimination is unacceptable and because we are committed to making Connecticut a great place to live and age for everyone, AARP Connecticut utilizes this moving film as a tool to generate an open dialogue in communities across the state. We hold discussions at the conclusion of the film at every event where attendees are encouraged to get involved with their own reaction to the film and questions. “The University of Saint Joseph Department of Social Work and Equitable Community Practice prepare social workers who are appreciative of diversity in its many forms,” said Raymie Wayne, Saint Joseph professor and department chair. “Gen Silent is a poignant

film that demonstrates the concept of intersectionality, such as how our multiple identities can overlap, and the complexities of aging and navigating healthcare systems – all of which are important lessons for aspiring social workers. Practitioners with raised awareness of clients’ potential identities and vulnerabilities will be more prepared to create safe spaces for all and to provide advocacy when needed.” We want to be a part of your community and welcome any suggestions, feedback and invitations to participate in organized events we may not be aware of quite yet. If you are interested in bringing free AARP programs, such as a showing of Gen Silent, to your community please contact us at ctaarp@aarp.org. There are also many ways for people get involved in helping their community and supporting our advocacy efforts by becoming an AARP volunteer. Through education, advocacy and service, an AARP Connecticut team of nearly 800 volunteers have the opportunity to share the lessons of their life experiences; benefit from high-quality training and education; enjoy stimulating challenges and meet new people; and know that they are truly making a difference. Visit www.aarp.org/volunteer to learn more about the different programs and contact Elaine Werner at ewerner@aarp.org or 860-548-3169 to inquire about how you can share your experiences through volunteering. You can help in a variety of ways, such as: • Become a volunteer • Become an advocate • Sign up to become an AARP activist, and you’ll receive e-newsletters, email action alerts on the issues you care about, and the latest news from the General Assembly, Congress and the White House. Stay informed and join the conversation: • Get the latest local news and information from AARP at www.aarp.org/ct • Facebook: AARPCT • Twitter: @AARPCT

LGBTQ+ GUIDE OF CT | 33


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