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'We celebrate Pride every day!'

Published on 29 June 2023 10:42 AM

Pride month is when we shine a positive light on people of all sexualities –  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LQBTQ+). Our day club manager Jose, who is gay, talks about how he celebrates Pride in the day clubs he runs where members are living with dementia and grew up during a period when attitudes were very different.

What do you do to celebrate pride in the day centre?

Pride is about celebrating diversity, embracing who you are and being proud of it. We celebrate Pride every day in our day clubs by being honest and open, listening to our members' needs and supporting the families as much as we can. For us Pride month is not only June, it’s every day.

In your experience, how receptive have older people been to this celebration of LGBTQ+ culture?

We are mindful that older people living with dementia can often have strong memories of the past when attitudes to LGBTQA+ rights were more negative. Members may not able to communicate this so we need to be careful about giving out Pride flags, for instance, in case they are waving the flags without understanding the meaning.  

Again I believe the most important thing is to know each individual and respect their way of being… I was working in a care home in lockdown and during Pride month we went from room to room visiting residents with a trolley full of colourfull capcakes and LGBTQA+ flags. One of the residents told me about going to the London Pride parade every year with her niece to support her son who is gay.

Do you think attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community is changing. Are the older members more accepting?

I don’t think it’s an issue any more and I think it’s getting really normalised, not just from my point of view but also on TV, in films and in magazines. When I speak to the members about my private life I refer to 'my partner', and if members asked about her or she, I point out that it’s a he or him, and very rarely does anyone bat an eyelid.

As a gay man, are you open about your sexuality at work?  

I am definitely open about may sexuality at work with my colleagues, members and their families. I believe in being transparent so people might feel that I am more approachable and they can do the same. If there’s anything they want to talk about or anything that bothers them, they will hopefully feel comfortable to do so… 

That said, I don’t think everyone needs to be open. If a straight person does not have to come out as straight, why should a gay or queer person? So I embrace my sexuality and try to just be myself, and I can say I have 100 per cent felt supported by all colleagues. In the same vein, however,  I hope I have supported my colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, religions, countries or different LGBTQA+ .