by Sally Tatnall (b. 1937)
AGEISM is a word that describes the systemic oppression based on someone’s age. It allows people of one age to discriminate against someone of another age. I think it is especially felt in the LGBTQ+ community because so much goes on how we look.
The structure of ageism gives power to people of one age over people of another age. Our language uses words to put people down because of age. You are too young to…..you are too old to…… why don’t you act like an adult….act your age… Ageism judgments happen at every age
Ageism is so prevalent that no one gets past its power to make us feel bad at some point in our life. Age has nothing to do with how we feel about ourselves or anything else. However, ageism allows others to determine how we feel and what we think. Then having determined that, they are at liberty to treat us accordingly.
Ageism at a later age is probably the most destructive. The word “old” is used to eliminate whatever we experience of reality.
If we are SEEN as old, the following Judgments will prevail. You are frail, forgetful, out of touch, strange, incapable, weak, absent-minded, worn-out, an old maid, an old geezer, confused, senile, and even demented.
It is no wonder if people see us in that light, that they stay away. It is important to understand, although we do not feel “old”, we are seen as “old”.
As LGBTQ+ people who have weathered all kinds of abuse, let us stand together and let others know what “old” really means.
OLD is exciting.
OLD is smart and creative.
OLD is gracious and passionate
OLD is full of rich stories.
OLD is respected and respectful.
OLD is generous.
OLD is helpful.
OLD carries our past even when YOUNG tries to eliminate it.
OLD understands and forgives.
OLD is lucky to still be here.
Sally Tatnall is the Co-Director of the Steering Committee for Old Lesbians Organizing Change (OLOC). She has been an activist all her life and feels lucky to be continuing her activism as part of OLOC in these late years of life. She is especially happy to be involved with one of the few remaining woman/lesbian only spaces left on the planet.