The LGBTQ+ community’s struggles are commemorated during the month of June, but in spite of the progress in terms of rights for this community, its members continue being affected by discrimination, social isolation, and loneliness.
One of the most affected sectors is the population of older LGBTQ+ adults, as well as the trans community. The organizations Waves Ahead and True Self Foundation work to promote the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of this population.
LGBTQ+ elders “are a vulnerable and forgotten population, both by the general public and by governmental and non-government entities,” says Wilfred Labiosa, executive director of Waves Ahead. “They are victims of LBT-phobia when they seek services, including housing. The pandemic has exacerbated their situation with an extremely marked social isolation. Keep in mind that more than 70% of suicides in the island are among older adults,” he added for context. Waves Ahead, established in 2017, offers support to marginalized sectors by providing them with the necessary help to strengthen their community and family environment.
“We have identified the LGBTQ+ population of people over 50 years old as one of those affected by social isolation and loneliness,” said Lydia Figueroa, executive director of Triple-S Foundation. “That is why we made a financial contribution to Waves Ahead, with the aim of addressing loneliness through mental health services, food, and by creating spaces that promote social connection.”
“Thanks in part to Triple-S Foundation’s support, we have continued with our educational campaign Exprésate Puerto Rico (“Express Yourself, Puerto Rico”), whose objective is to take care of mental health by encouraging you to talk with your loved ones, which helps manage depression, isolation, and anxiety,” Labiosa explained. In addition, Waves Ahead has developed a program of counseling, yoga, mindfulness, music therapy, nutrition, creative art, and horticulture workshops offered in hybrid mode, at home, and at its three centers located in San Juan, Cabo Rojo, Maunabo, and soon in Loíza. Triple-S Foundation has also contributed by donating supplies for the cultivation of home gardens. As part of its commitment to addressing the social determinant of emotional wellbeing and social isolation, as well as raising awareness of this situation, Triple-S Foundation is implementing a series of efforts to combat loneliness and promote interpersonal social relationships. Living alone can lead to social isolation and may even prompt feelings of loneliness. The danger is that, in addition to all the emotional consequences these factors can have, scientific studies show that social isolation and loneliness cause damage to our physical health. Social isolation is associated with a 29% increase in premature death, increased cardiovascular health risks, increased likeliness of stroke, and risk for dementia, among others.
The communities of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are commemorated and celebrated during LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Triple-S, in its commitment to all sectors of Puerto Rican society, has also supported the True Self Foundation. This entity promotes the social mobility and integral wellbeing of LGBTQ+ communities by encouraging entrepreneurship and college education through scholarships and by reducing barriers in the transition process for the transgender community through partial grants for gender-affirming surgeries and free legal services for the name change process. “Thanks in part to the support of Triple-S, we have continued strengthening our initiatives in favor of the LGBTQIA+ communities. We celebrate the diversity of our community and recognize the challenges we still face to this day. Our commitment is to a fair and supportive society, now and always,” said Michael Pagán Castañer, executive director of True Self Foundation.
As part of this month’s Pride celebration, on Saturday, June 25, True Self Foundation will hold their All Out 5K race, where Triple-S will also participate.
We invite you to register at mieventoonline.com