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PGN AGING

Philadelphia Gay News www.epgn.com Apr. 18-24, 2014

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Let’s talk about sex, again In the 1980s and ’90s, we Sex, however, isn’t mentioned talked a lot about sex. We did directly anywhere in the song. this partly because we were Thicke talked around sex with young and partly because metaphors and allusions. Saltof HIV/AIDS, but the mesn-Pepa and the folks in Brazil sages were targeted at younger talked about it directly. people throughout. Talking For example, in around sex is just as 1991, Salt-n-Pepa’s problematic as not “Let’s Talk About talking about it at Sex” brought to the all. Talking around forefront the discusit gives space to sion of sex and of misconceptions. the importance of These misconceptions can become safer sex. They sang, a breeding ground “Let’s talk about all for potentially the good things and unhealthy attitudes the bad things that toward sex. These may be.” The video misconceptions do featured a cast of 20Rebecca not acknowledge somethings. In 2008, the sloRichman safety — both in the gan, “Sex has no age. physical and emotional senses. In fact, Nor has protection,” was introduced in Brazil as part despite decades of safer-sex education, the rates of sexually of a public-health campaign. transmitted infections and of The Brazilians were ahead of the curve in acknowledging that sexual and domestic violence are rising among older adults in older people have just as active the United States. sex lives as younger people. As a society, we are someIn the United States, the conversation about sex and older what comfortable having adults has barely made the conversations about sex and radar. sexuality for and about young In some contrast, Robin people. We are much less Thicke’s 2013 “Blurred Lines” comfortable acknowledging the realities of the sexual pushed boundaries with its health and well-being of older controversial lyrics about sex.

Gettin’ On

people. This discussion has become even more important as the aging population booms. However, barriers exist to this discussion actually occurring. In many places around the world, sex among older people is viewed as taboo or shameful, especially in LGBT communities. Despite vast research showing that people remain sexually active into their elder years, the majority of conversations about sex and sexuality still remain focused on youth. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that in the United States, women between the ages of 57-74 showed no decline in sexual activity. When it comes to research and information on sex and sexual health, one of the most marginalized groups are older women in the LGBT community. Currently, no guidelines exist on preventative screenings for bisexual and lesbian older women. Doctors are not always prepared to discuss these screenings with older patients. When they do discuss sex and health, they often make incorrect assumptions about their patients’ sexual orientation and activities. Older LGBT women may

feel just as uncomfortable talking about their sex lives with their health-care providers. As a result, older women are often overlooked for what could be life-saving tests — for themselves and their partners. For transwomen, access to appropriate health care is a major concern: Many carry the scars, both physical and mental, of years of violence and discrimination. According to the LGBT Elder Initiative’s Dawn Munro, ”Discrimination and cultural incompetence leading to denial of needed screening tests for prostate and breast cancer, HIV and HEP is sadly common, as is the lack of provision of mental-health services. This is abuse by neglect and leads to anxiety and creates a climate of distrust.” Sexual health is a basic right. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, mental and social well-being in the sphere of sexuality. Intrinsic to the right of sexual health is a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having sexual experiences that are pleasurable and safe, free from coercion, discrimination, violence and disease.

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Concentrating in Planning for Lesbian and Gay Couples • Probate • Wills • Living Wills • Powers of Attorney

215-735-1006

1900 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 www.amysteerman.com

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A change in the scope of the conversation around sex is necessary to ensure that people of all ages receive appropriate health services and the information necessary to maintain the basic standard of sexual health. On May 31, the LGBT Elder Initiative will host “LGBT Older Women’s Sexual Health.” A panel of experts will discuss the emotional, physical, spiritual and pleasure aspects of sex. For more information, contact the LGBTEI at 267-5463448. In the practical and timeless lyrics of Salt-n-Pepa: “Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be/How it was, and of course, how it should be.” ■ Rebecca Richman is a member of the LGBT Elder Initiative and is a paralegal wth the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. The LGBTEI fosters and advocates for services, resources and institutions that are culturally competent, inclusive and responsive to the needs of LGBT older adults. To comment on this article, suggest topics for future articles or for more information, visit www.lgbtei. org or call 267-546-3448 and watch for “Gettin’ On” each month in PGN.

PGN April 18 - 24, 2014  
PGN April 18 - 24, 2014  

"The Philadelphia Gay News covers news and entertainment serving the LGBT community in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond"

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