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Community Corner—GenPride

Community Corner highlights the work of Seattle Human Services’ community partners in their own words. Our goal is to gather stories and photos that illustrate their amazing work on behalf of the people of Seattle. This post highlights GenPride

What is the role your organization fulfills in your community? 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) older adults experience pronounced disparities in housing, healthcare, and social support. GenPride strives to actively create futures where older LGBTQ+ adults residing in Seattle and King County live with pride and dignity by promoting, connecting, and developing innovative programs and services that enhance belonging and support, eliminate discrimination, and honor the lives of older members of our community. 

GenPride strives to realize this vision by providing an array of services tailored to support the needs and care of King County LGBTQ+ elders—wellness and community building programs and daily living assistance (including community referrals, food, and technology access), and providing culturally competent and equity focused training to other health providers and organizations serving older people. We’ve successfully provided these trainings to hundreds of health care providers, senior centers, and social service agencies, including the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the City of Seattle.  

A group of people cutting a pride ribbon for a celebration.

While GenPride serves all of King County, we envision the GenPride Center at Pride Place as Capitol Hill’s senior community center, serving Pride Place residents, neighborhood elders, and older adults throughout King County. The GenPride Center has a cultural focus on LGBTQ+ elders but welcomes all people aged 55+, including those who have disabilities, are living with low incomes, are geographically isolated, who lack family support and/or have specific care needs, including dementia care, grief support, and disease support/navigation. 

How does your partnership with Seattle Human Services (HSD) assist you in that role?  

The City of Seattle’s Human Services Department’s support and funding are central to GenPride being able to serve and support LGBTQ+ elders. Funding from HSD enables GenPride to provide presently and in the future: 

  • Resource Information and community referrals 
  • Health promotion services 
  • Caregiver support and training 
  • On-site lunches (2x/week) 
  • Body-inclusive health/fitness activities 
  • Support groups 
  • Educational, social, and personal growth offerings, including end of life choices, smoking cessation, monthly field trips, writing, crafts, and dancing 
  • Volunteer recruitment, onboarding and training to provide support at the Center and collaboratively design new LGBTQ+-focused activities 
  • Community-based outreach and training:  
  • LGBTQ+ Cultural Humility 101 Training: senior centers and senior-serving organizations 
  • Intersectional/Ageism Training: LGBTQ+ organizations and community members 
  • Affinity Group Consultations: BIPOC-centered senior centers rural and outside Seattle 

Additionally, HSD’s foundational funding supports GenPride to develop and demonstrate its programs and services and diversify our income.  

What is your organization’s origin story?  

The GenPride Center was born out of a study at the University of Washington indicating a disparity in social isolation, housing options, and healthcare quality between LGBTQ+ aging adults and non-LGBTQIA+ aging adults. The idea of an LGBTQ+-affirming senior housing center and community center has been around since long before the study confirmed what the community understood.  

GenPride now provides programs and services in the first-ever LGBTQ+ Senior Community Center in Washington state, as part of Pride Place, the Pacific Northwest’s first LGBTQ-affirming senior affordable housing, in collaboration with Community Roots housing. The GenPride Senior Community Center and GenPride administrative offices are on the ground floor of the building on Broadway, between Pike and Pine Streets. This exciting undertaking represents a major and rapid expansion in the scope of our organization’s work.  

How has your organization grown or developed in recent years? 

GenPride has existed as a 501c3 for nine years. It is important to understand that, as a very young start-up organization, GenPride has carried out a very significant capital campaign to fund the GenPride Center. Funding for the GenPride Center would not have been possible without the expertise and commitment of Community Roots Housing and the Rise Together Campaign.  

As a result, GenPride has a real senior community center as a program and service hub. 

GenPride began its anti-racist cultural shift during 2020’s racial reckoning and has centered racial equity in 2024 and beyond. GenPride is working with racial equity consultants who understand the intersections within race equity, aging, and queerness.  

Seattle is celebrating its 50th Pride anniversary in 2024. To honor those who were early trailblazers, older LGBTQ+ individuals will be this year’s parade marshals, and the first ever Legacy Lounge will have a senior space at Pride in the Park at Volunteer Park on June 1st.  

Now more than ever, GenPride can collaborate with community partners to influence what it is like to grow older as LGBTQ+ in Seattle and King County, particularly for those most vulnerable and on the margins.  

Why is it important for HSD and City of Seattle taxpayers to invest in community-led work? 

We believe that the City of Seattle strives to “… connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities” to be a livable city.  

GenPride’s embedded bias is that supporting and honoring LGBTQ+ elders, particularly those most marginalized and vulnerable, makes Seattle a more vibrantly textured and livable city.  

How do your programs and services help to reduce the disparities experienced by people of color living in our region? 

While our efforts to prioritize the needs of BIPOC LGBTQ+ elders have emerged over the past four years, our vision is clear, and our commitment is strong.  

GenPride works toward a future where Seattle/King County LGBTQ+ seniors’ racial and ethnic identity no longer determines how they fare in society. Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) LGBTQ+ older adults experience being unwelcomed, underserved, excluded, or invisible in our communities, including at GenPride. GenPride takes responsibility for past harmful actions and works to repair relationships and change behaviors when we do not uphold our commitments and vision for racial equity. 

We are actively creating futures where all BIPOC LGBTQ+ older adults are cared for, celebrated, and live in community.  

We understand our Capitol Hill Center location may not be accessible and approachable to all, and GenPride is committed to having at least 40% of our senior center programming be multicultural and community-based throughout King County. 

Our goal is to reflect the intersectionality of those we serve. We have intentionally hired a stellar staff who are racially diverse, bilingual, and identify as LGBTQ+. By the end of 2024, at least 50% of GenPride’s board will be BIPOC and we will continue recruiting people of color, immigrants, transgender people, those who have lived in rural communities and/or have experienced economic hardship to our staff, board, and volunteer base. 

Tell us an example of how an HSD-funded program or service impacted the life of one of your community members. 

What a difference a few blocks make! SD (he/they) is a 70-year-old trans man who previously lived in North Central Capitol Hill. SD’s life changed upon moving into Pride Place and becoming active in the GenPride Center this past fall. 

In a short time, SD has built a community with other folks with shared lived experiences who they had never met before. This almost instant community has changed the way they view their place in the world. They are not alone. Instead, SD is volunteering and becoming a trusted community member and leader, something they had not previously experienced. Again, what a difference a few blocks can make! 

What motivates your staff or keeps you going? 

GenPride currently has a staff of nine. While each person has their motivations and strategies, a few common threads exist.  

Knowing and interacting with older LGBTQ+ folk IS a privilege and honor. Staff respect that they have up close and personal access to stories and histories that they likely otherwise wouldn’t have. As one staff member says, “Aging is aspirational. Knowing older queer folks makes aging seem possible.”  

We strive to have a culture where staff can thrive, too. GenPride staff understand that they are making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Having other staff who ❤ older LGBTQ+ people means not being alone in the struggle.  

GenPride is still a young organization. Working with GLBTQ+ older adults is still relatively new. It is meaningful and inspiring to be a part of witnessing the community grow and flourish.