Het afgelopen jaar bezocht Susan Tredenick, wijkverpleegkundige uit Australië en tijdelijk met haar Nederlandse man en kinderen woonachtig in Groningen verschillende kunstprojecten uit het netwerk van HAendeKunsten. Ze schreef over exposities, projecten in woonzorgcentra, dansvoorstellingen, culturele ontmoetingsmiddagen en andere bijzondere initiatieven van ouderen zelf of van culturele instellingen. Voor haar laatste blog dit jaar, begaf Susan zich naar Winschoten om een feestelijke ‘high tea’ bij te wonen van roze50plus Oldambt. Over haar kennismaking met deze bijzonder gezellige belangengroep van LGBTI’s* in de gemeente Oldambt gaat deze blog.
Recently in my home country, Australia, there have been some significant events affecting the LGBTI community in positive ways. Firstly I was delighted that I could participate in the recent vote for marriage equality and contribute to its success, with over 63% of voters saying YES!, thus ensuring that the Marriage Equality Bill was passed in parliament before the end of the year. There have also been events that have seen our government engage significantly more with people within the LGBTI community to assist with developing strategic frameworks for healthcare. With all this positivity surrounding me I was eager to accept my invitation to meet with and talk to the organisers and members of roze50plus Oldambt. in the hope that I could learn more about the work that they do to highlight the LGBTI community and to ensure acceptance and inclusion.
Arriving at the High Tea, I was warmly welcomed and immediately accepted into this group. The buzz of a lively discussion, warm conversation and live music was the order of the afternoon. As I sat there comfortable amongst people that I had never met before I contemplated, how easily I was accepted for who I am. If I can laugh, tell a silly joke and be a good conversationalist then why should it be any different for any of the wonderful people that I met that afternoon? When asked “what was my drive to be involved in championing for LGBTI people?” I stated, “Why should I be able to walk into any room and happily talk about my husband without any fear of discrimination? Yet for you, there will be times where you have to decide on the spot if it is safe for you to talk about your long-time husband, wife or partner just because they are the same sex as you. That is not a fair world to me!”
Some of the support that The Roze 50 plus (Oldambt) aims to offer includes; social activities, confidential conversations, strategic vision, contribution to municipal policies for the LGBTI community and safety to be who you are. It amazes me that still in our society today, people who identify within the LGBTI community often need the security of safe meeting places and organised social events to be able to feel that they can simply be themselves. That being the case, it is the dedication of a core group of people that keeps this organisation ticking over. Their commitment to improving the situation of older and aging LGBTI’s in the Oldambt and surrounding areas had my admiration.
Although I attended one of their many social meetings, crucial for mental health well-being, it soon became clear that there were many important activities for this group. One such example is ensuring that institutions such as healthcare organisations, churches, sports clubs and schools are made aware of the difficulties that people within the LGBTI community face when wanting to become involved in community activities for fear of discrimination and exclusion.
Whilst in The Netherlands I continue my work with the organisation in Australia, Reliant Healthcare, where we are actively involved in planning, implementing and working toward inclusive practices for healthcare for people within the LGBTI community. We have recently become a foundation member of the ACON organisation that advocates for the LGBTI community. It was wonderful then to be able to gain further knowledge from the members of roze50plus Oldambt and combine this with my work in Australia. Networking with groups in The Netherlands continues to strengthen my knowledge and practices surrounding policies and strategies for Aged Care and the community. Being involved in HAendekunsten has given me this fantastic opportunity to expand my knowledge and network.
I was delighted to be given this chance to pop in on Marjet and the rest of the crew at roze50plus Oldambt …happy to enjoy the cakes, good company and discussion over people’s rights to just be, but also determined to help bring attention to the services designed to help, encourage, welcome and advocate for people and their rights to be who they are.
*LGBTI staat voor lesbisch, gay, transgender en interseksueel georiënteerde mensen