The month of May is a time, designated by President Kennedy, to recognize our elders. And according to sources I qualify as an elder. And honestly, I do not like that. When I was growing up, we were told to respect our elders. To me that meant old people. What defined old people was not clear to me as a kid, but you know, old. As my life has progressed that word has carried significant fear for me. If I am an elder, I am old. And that is so far from the truth of who I am and how I identify.
At the age of 50 AARP caught up with me soliciting me to join the group. Me? Join AARP? How dare they. I ask- who decides on these labels and it seems everyone has a definition of their own to meet their audience. Some groups have chosen to use the term ‘active aging’. Well, that is true since I am aging everyday but isn’t everyone? Society puts so many labels on us all and sometimes some of us fall prey to those labels. I went from being a baby to a kid. From being a kid to a teenager. From teenager to young adult. Then young adult to middle age. Middle age to older adult. And now apparently my label is elder. I appreciate President Kennedy choosing a time to recognize the contributions of elders. In the LGBTQ+ community we often put the elders out to pasture. Our community is so focused on the young LGBTQ+ individuals that we forget who got us to where we are with rights, discrimination, stigma and more.
But let me tell you something. Older, elder, active-aging adults have a great deal to offer society and the LGBTQ+ community. Insight, perspective, knowledge, leadership to name a few. It is time we engage and cross generations so that we are all ONE community. It is time to step up, recognize and help our peers. I still do not like the word elder. It means my next label is dead. And just so you know I am not dead. I get to choose what labels are attached to me. I choose human being. Cheers!