Manchester is working with artists to “improve LGBT visibility” in elderly people’s homes to encourage residents to ‘come out’ as homosexual or transgender.
The ‘Back in the Closet’ project, set to run through September, will see five so-called artists paired with five older persons’ housing schemes in the Manchester area to make retirement homes “more inclusive”, the LGBT Foundation reports.
While less than one per cent of over-65s in Britain identify as LGBT, the scheme — a partnership between Greater Manchester Combined Authority, House Proud NW, and Pride in Ageing at LGBT Foundation — is designed to encourage more elderly people to “disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity”, according to one councillor.
Greater Manchester’s lead for Age-Friendly and Equalities, Cllr Brenda Warrington, said: “All older LGBT people have a right to dignified and inclusive housing and this project will allow us to look at how schemes can ensure they provide this for their residents.
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“A survey in 2014 reported that two-thirds of care home staff said there was not a single resident who was openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans where they worked.”
“We know this cannot be true and points to the fact that many older LGBT people feel uncomfortable and unable to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she claimed.
An artist taking part in the project, Jez Dolan, added: “My practice as an artist is focussed around queerness, identity and history, often through telling stories.
“The Back in the Closet project has a real resonance with my ongoing work, and I’m really excited about the opportunity of sharing my practice with older LGBTQIA+ people living in residential settings.
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“As an older artist, I’m looking forward to collaborating with communities of people and sharing our stories and shared histories, and looking at how we can make often unheard voices heard and appreciated.”
Earlier this year, Manchester’s Labour council announced it will conduct a review of all statues in the city, with a view to replacing figures deemed problematic with monuments to so-called diversity.
Commenting on the endeavour, Councillor Luthfur Rahman said it was important not to “shy away from the darker moments in our country’s history and the difficult conversations attached to them”.
“We also want to take this opportunity to ask the public who is missing — who should be celebrated but is not — with particular thought around representing the proud BAME history of Manchester and help to reflect the shared story of our diverse and multicultural city,” he added.
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