Jan Anderson, Bayview Director of Spiritual Care sits with Resident Dottie Neufeld to talk about the issue of inclusivity with regards to the LGBT Community. This exchange is intended to lift up pride month and this city:
Q: You’ve seen a lot in the time you’ve lived here and in your career. Can you share any initial thoughts or memories?
A: I was a nurse and have never felt uncomfortable. I grew up in a city so my experiences have been more comfortable than someone who grew up in a smaller community. But I’ve always felt I needed to be guarded. I can remember my friends – just the 8 of us. We talked about what would happen as we get older – when we’re in our 50’s and 60’s. Did we have to create our own space to grow older? It didn’t seem like there would be a place that would be welcoming and where we could be who we are.
Q: It’s only been 4 years now in this state since same-sex marriage has been made legal. I’m eager to ask you what you think the frontiers are at this point for the Gay community – what do we need to be focusing on?
A: One thing would be adoption. I have gay friends who have adopted kids but there’s still a lot of concern and prejudice in terms of having gay couples raise children.
Q: How did you meet your late partner?
A: During those early years and when girls started looking at boys – my brother said someone at my church wanted to go out with me and I didn’t get it – why would I want to do that! It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started dating women. When I met Carol we were both working together. We were friends for a long time before we got into a committed relationship.
Q: Have you felt that people are supportive since the time you became a widow? Do you feel that people have understood the issues you’ve faced in the same way they would with a heterosexual women who lost someone?
A: I had support from my church and friends. And here at Bayview when I talk with other residents who’ve lost a spouse, we just talk to each other as people who have lost a spouse. It hasn’t been an issue at all. I haven’t felt my relationship was diminished because I was in a relationship with another women. I felt that people understood that my loss was the same as theirs.
Q: What do you think would be important for a place like Bayview – a retirement community – to attract members of the gay and lesbian community? What do we need to do or change?
A: So much happens with word of mouth. I have friends – one is interested [in communities like these] and the other isn’t. And the younger one is usually the one not ready to move in. I have friends who are an interracial couple. I asked her [what she thinks about moving into a retirement community.] She felt comfortable but I think they wouldn’t want to be the first or only gay couple living in a community.
Q: Is there anything else you would want our readers to know or that you would like the opportunity to say?
A: If they’re looking for a place to be? I would love to see more people from the LGBT community living here. And by our relationships and our presence with another we can continually educate ourselves. The things we thought were scary and fearful are not. That’s probably the biggest witness I think that could happen here. We need to be able to take in the change and have it be a part of us. I am proud of where I live. I feel that people are respectful here.