On a warm day in August 2019 in the small mountain town of Clayton, Ga., the Rural America Pride Festival was in full swing. More than a dozen booths offered food, crafts, and information at a pavilion next to the Rabun County Civic Center.
A police car sat on the hill behind the library overlooking the festival, but thankfully, little protection was needed; a lone protestor had stood there with a sign earlier in the day.
At one booth, Dana Allgary Brock, 50, sold signs she created with wood-burning tools.
She once worked as a waitress at the Waffle House in Clayton, but nearly lost her job when a customer yelled an anti-gay slur and she yelled back. Now she prefers to be self-employed.
At another table, Sharon Penner, who is in her 50s, sold jewelry. She, too, makes a living as an independent artisan.
Both are settled here and can expect to grow old in the shade of the North Georgia mountains.
Aging, however, is not a cakewalk for LGBTQ adults, who are more likely than others to experience economic insecurity in old age, have fewer family supports and face unhelpful or incompetent healthcare providers. They have unique needs that must be addressed, some researchers are saying, especially since their numbers will double by 2030.
In the United States, 1.1 million LGBTQ adults are age 65 or older, according to estimates in the report, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults. About 2.7 million are age 50 or older, according to the report from the research organization MAP and the advocacy group SAGE (Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders).
Contrary to stereotype, many live in small-towns or rural areas, according to the report. The challenges they face are amplified in rural settings — although LGBTQ seniors may also often find support in tight-knit small-town communities.
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