First Gay Care center opens in A'dam

The first care center catered to homosexuals will open its doors tomorrow in Amsterdam. The center was started by four gay entrepreneurs, and Gay Care Amsterdam will be the first home care organization aimed at gay men, lesbians bisexuals and transgenders. It hopes to be an institution without discrimination, a safe place for LGBTs.

Elderly LGBTs have been scared of placing a photo of their deceased partners on their night stand for fear of the comments they will receive from their care workers now have a safe place to live without fear of being judged for their way of life, the Volkskrant reports.

The entrepreneurs decided to take matters into their own hands after hearing stories from elderly homosexuals in care institutions who were not living a comfortable life. Stories such as the elderly lesbian woman with onset dementia who had an uncomfortable feeling about the people of the care institution she was living at. Friends and girlfriends felt they needed to intervene. They came at the end of the afternoon, ate with her, stayed the night, made breakfast and then had to go back to work. Because there was a chance of her walking away, they felt obliged to keep the door locked.

The homosexual entrepreneurs also want to foster an environment that they feel they would be comfortable in when it becomes time for them to need care assistance. On Thursday, they will launch Gay Care Amsterdam, the first LGBTQ-oriented care home.

"We want to offer safety, so that they feel home in their own home" says Ed Sinke, one of the entrepreneurs. "In  regular home care, you can encounter people who do not accept your orientation because of their religion or culture, and they make that known."

Now that care is decreasing, taking care of the elderly usually falls to their immediate family. Many homosexuals don't have children. They grew up in a time when their orientation was taboo, and family ties were often sadly broken. This is the group that needs home care and volunteers, Sinke says, and it is the group that Gay Care is catering to.

"There is more stability in family than in a group of friends", says Jan Nieuwenhuis, director of Gay Care Amsterdam, who is one of the four founders and until the 1st of July, director of an ambulance service in South Holland.

Apart from care, nursing and household support, Gay Care also wants to offer luxury services. Theater visits, for example. Sinke expects a lot of solidarity, with clients helping to pay for luxury services so that the less affluent clients can also go. "We arrange it ourselves. Experiences in America teach that the preparedness is higher then."

Manon Linschoten, project leader of Roze 50Plus of the COC says that this is a nice initiative and that the entrepreneurs are filling a gap in the market. "I would love to discuss something with the gents, and am intrigued about their vision on gay-friendly care."

Linschoten has been busy for almost ten years with homosexual elderly. She knows that gay elderly people have difficulties with care. She doesn't have exact figures as it is a sensitive issue that is not easily opened up by those affected. "They say that the man who's photo is hanging on the wall is their deceased brother."

She also knows gay elderly people who will not stand for discrimination or intimidation, and openly speak out against it. But they don't live pleasant lives.