Toronto Pride has formed a new committee to focus on older gays and lesbians, a group that is often marginalised and forgotten.

Dexter Roberts, who has studied LGBT issues and ageing, is spearheading the new Pride Toronto 40 Plus Committee, said the event’s organisers.

“There are a lot of people who feel disconnected from Pride because of their age and because it has tended to be geared towards a more mainstream crowd,” Roberts said.

But being over 40, he notes, is not so much an age as a mindset. “It doesn’t mean you have one foot in the grave, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re not having sex. Your values have shifted, that’s all,” he explained.

The committee will organise a number of activities during Pride 2010 through which participants can share their stories and develop advocacy strategies related to ageing issues in the LGBT community.

Technology – specifically a 40 Plus website – will provide opportunities for people to speak out about issues they are often uncomfortable talking about. Roberts hopes to have the site running by February next year.

Roberts, who has several years’ experience working on boards geared specifically to issues facing seniors as well as hands-on experience through volunteering at the city’s Older LGBTTQ Resource Centre, has a firm grip on the realities particular to the community.

And it’s not just Pride they feel disconnected from. “I’ve been speaking to a number of my friends and the same ageing-related themes keep cropping up: housing issues, and the challenge of making friends when you’re over 40,” Roberts said.

He noted that the 40 Plus Committee will offer more than just heavy, serious discussions about coping with mid-life and beyond. “It is a party, after all,” Roberts quipped. “We’re taking a look at a few entertainers as well as opportunities to perform.”

At the same time, though, the committee’s activities will focus on providing alternatives to the popular partying that takes place at Pride.

“Many people I’ve spoken to say that the partying and drinking is a turn-off and a major reason why they don’t attend Pride,” said Roberts. “They’re looking for something beyond that and that’s what I’m hoping the 40 Plus Committee will be able to deliver.”

Proposed 40 Plus Pride events include mix-‘n-mingles, guest speakers from across Canada and a BBQ at a location to be announced in the near future.

Toronto Pride will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

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