Sweden's first LGBT retirement home - a model for rainbow aging?

Tue Sep 8, 2015 6:56am EDT
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By Magdalena Mis

STOCKHOLM (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - There's a lengthy waiting list for a place at Sweden's first retirement home for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, its success highlighting a growing demand for accommodation specifically for elderly LGBT people.

Opened in 2013, Regnbagen, or rainbow house, doesn't look any different from the other modern apartment blocks in the quiet, leafy Stockholm suburb that overlooks the city's port.

The residents, the majority of them men, occupy 27 airy apartments on the upper three floors of an eight story retirement home with access to amenities such as a hairdresser, foot therapist, health clinic and a roof terrace.

"We have the same activities, we live the same life and we love in the same way," Christer Fallman, Regnbagen's founder, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The only thing that is different is that a small minority of people who are gay can get together to find security when they are aging."

Sweden is ranked as one of Europe's best countries for LGBT rights, according to an index that ranks European countries based on legal benchmarks for LGBT equality.

But many of the residents remember a darker time, when they faced discrimination in society and under Swedish law, and some feared coming out to their families and colleagues.

Sitting in the sun-filled kitchen of Bjorn Lundstedt, one of the first residents to move into Regnbagen, Fallman said he liked the idea of creating a home where elderly gay and bisexual people could peacefully retire.   Continued...