Spain’s first old people’s home for gays and lesbians is to open next year in a converted hotel in Madrid.
Federico Armenteros, president of the 26 December Foundation that is behind the scheme, said that as far as society was concerned, “elderly LGTB [Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual] don’t exist.”
He said the home would not be exclusively for gay people.
“We’re not going to ask you who you sleep with when you apply,” he said. “Anyone can come, the only thing to bear in mind is that it specializes in elderly LGTBs. As it is, there are homes for ex-servicemen, nuns or retired workers from specific companies and no one says they are being discriminatory.”
Until late in 1978, gay people in Spain were classified by law as “dangerous” and faced repercussions such as prison or internment in re-education centers, as well as having their movements restricted. The foundation takes its name from the date the law was reformed.
“When people think of LGTB people, they think of young people. There’s a tendency, as there is in society as a whole, to leave out the elderly,” said Boti Garcia, president of Spain’s National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals.
Armenteros said the elderly in general are not as accepting of gays and lesbians, and as a result, some go back in the closet in old age, especially if they are in a home.
“They don’t have children and grandchildren they can talk about, and often they conceal their sexual orientation to avoid rejection,” he said.
The foundation is also planning a civic center for the same community in Madrid’s Lavapies neighborhood that is to be completed in a few months. It will offer painting classes, physiotherapy, a classroom for the University of the Elderly and a gym, among other things.
“Neither the center nor the home will be places to park old people,” Armenteros said. “We want elderly people to feel useful, that they have a good time and feel at home.”