Monday, June 20, 2011
"We Live Here Too"
The other night Di and I made our way to the Brunswick Town Hall on Sydney Road--here every neighborhood, if I may call them that, has their own elected council and their town halls which serve as community centers in a way, some whose buildings date back to the early 1900s-- to celerate a history making lesbian event. Throughout the 1980s in New York, plans for senior lesbian housing circulated in the lesbian air with occasional fund raisings and then, for decades, silence. SAGE was the closest we could come, but here in this Australian state of Victoria, the dream of affordable accessible housing for low income lesbians has become a reality. A wintery wind blew us into the large basic auditorium, where over a 100 older lesbians had gathered to mark this moment of social cncern history. Gray heads everywhere I looked, a sea of Melbournian older dykes, myself among them, to applaud the enormity of the Matrix Guild's enormous accomplishment: the opening up of three new and fully accessible apartments for older low income lesbians. Actual affordable exciting housing, "facing north to maximize light and views." Now with this equity, the group will press forward to build more housing for senior lesbians. A generous bequest well used made this initial launching possible. Simple. Huge. Hard collective work around it all with a cooperative council. Just in time when here religious charities are asking for exemptions from discrimination charges if they do not want to care for the needs of queer people.
I know I write of places far away from my home ground, but this dream made real spans geographies. My large great city with is over the top real estate prices has never been able to accomplish such a thing--private ownership yes for so many of us--but here secular feminist queer social caring has broken new ground.
From the Matrix Guild Brochure:
"Raising awareness of the health, housing and care needs of older lesbians.
Founded in May 1992 by a group of lesbian feminists its aims and objectives are
To promote appropriate care and support for older lesbians
To provide some accomodation that caters to the needs of aging lesbians who are financially disadvantaged
To support ageing lesbians' accomodation choices
To challenge ageism and to oppose discrimination against olderd lesbians
To advocate on behalf of older lesbians to governments and other relevant bodies
To promote social contact and support among older lesbians
To research lesbians' experience of aged care
I will be sending back to the Lesbian Herstory Archives the Guild's publications, "We Live Here Too: A Guide to Lesbian Inclusive Practice in Aged Care" and "Permission to Speak: Determining Strageties towards the Development of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Friendly Aged Care Services in Victoria" to give inspiration.