Center to Hold Workshop for Older Lesbians, Bi Women

Older lesbians, bisexual women and their allies of all sexual orientations are invited to a workshop on planning for later life and making Utah what one facilitator described as “the greatest place in the country for older lesbians.”

To be held Oct. 30 at the Utah Pride Center, the six-hour Living Our Visions Workshop will examine participants’ concerns about aging as sexual minorities in Salt Lake Valley, handling later life issues and building a strong community of older lesbian and bisexual women. To that point, said co-facilitator Liz Abrams, the discussion will be very open-ended and depend largely on what participants want to discuss.

“Our point is to assess the needs of the community of older lesbians living in the Salt Lake Valley and wherever we go with that we’re going to go,” said Abrams, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Utah’s Counseling and Psychology Program, and whose area of emphasis is social and economic justice. Abrams will run the workshop with Dr. Sue Morrow, a psychologist and professor at the university who identifies as an older lesbian.

The workshop, explained Abrams (who identifies as bisexual), is part of her dissertation, which is on participatory action research. This means, she said, that the workshop will be geared toward a three step process.

“We want to work with community members here on assessing our needs and coming up with some plans on what we want here then implementing some actions and documenting them so other folks from other communities can see what we’re doing and build on that in their own community,” she said.

Along the way, said Abrams, participants will also be considered collaborating researchers. This means that the workshop will be recorded. While the tape will not be shared with anyone without written permission from all those involved, Abrams stressed that she did not want to lose participants who are concerned about having a camera in the room.

“We want to work with them if they still want to be there,” she said. “There are ways [to avoid appearing on camera] like sitting with their backs to the camera or sitting next to it. We’re really flexible around that, but we feel like this is an important process we want to document.”

Abrams said she hopes that the workshop will draw “a diversity of women in terms of age, race, ethnicity, social class, spiritual tradition, ability and all our identities.” To that effect, she said that anyone who is interested in supporting bisexual and lesbian women in the aging process is also welcome, including men, transgender women and straight people. Younger women (under age 40) are also invited to participate.

Ultimately, Abrams said she sees the workshop as a way of helping a community that has played a huge role in her academic development.

“This project is important for me for very personal reasons,” she said. “The most significant mentors in my life have been older lesbians, and for me this project feels like one small way of giving back to the community that I feel has really raised me.”

Registration for the workshop is $5 and includes lunch (with vegetarian and vegan options). Interested participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible because of registration caps (due to the size of the room). Participants with concerns about transportation to the workshop should contact Liz Abrams at liz.abrams@utah.edu for assistance.

To register, visit utahpridecenter.org.

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