The isolation of the COVID pandemic was especially dangerous for the LGBT senior community.
After more than two years of caution, including one year when many rarely left their homes due to health concerns, life is getting back to normal. Coffee & Conversation is returning, in person, to The Pride Center.
“Folks are absolutely delighted to be back together,” Bruce Williams, Pride Center’s Active Aging manager, said. “The isolation caused by the pandemic has been devastating to everyone but even more so to the senior set. [On a recent] Tuesday, we welcomed over 100 attendees. Our crowd is growing so quickly.”
C&C happens Tuesdays at 10 a.m., but Williams said people start lining up at 9 a.m. The first hour is exactly what the title implies: people having coffee and conversations. Around 11 a.m. they have announcements and a message from a local business that serves Active Agers or a local nonprofit. They share information that is vital to meeting one or more of the challenges that people encounter as they continue their journey through life. After, some make lunch plans and head out, while others linger for a last cup and more chat.
“They laugh, they forge friendships, they tell some bawdy jokes, they celebrate milestones, they ask for support, and they learn about life-saving services. They flirt. They learn something new. For some, this is the one moment each week when they overcome isolation and connect with others in meaningful, vital ways. Plus they have a lot of fun,” Williams said.
People have met at the C&C events, fell in love, and gotten married. Williams said the events help keep seniors connected during a stage in life when it’s easy to let society and culture pass them by.
“Most folks address aging only during a period of crisis. No one picks up the scatter rugs until after they break their hip. Coffee & Conversation allows The Pride Center to equip each attendee with at least one additional resource each week. As human beings, we are afforded only two paths: we either die or we get older. The sooner one recognizes and accepts the aging process, the more palatable their ensuing years will become.”
Now that C&C is up and running again, Williams and his team are working to bring back another event important for South Florida seniors.
“We’re busy preparing for our annual Active Aging Expo on Oct. 15. The free, in-person Active Aging Expo is the premier opportunity for providers to connect with the LGBTQ+ Active Aging community. The 13th annual Expo will connect businesses and service providers with our ever-increasing LGBTQ+ Active Aging community.”
The event will be presented live at The Pride Center at Equality Park on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.