Chicago has a reputation as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities going, and the city specifically extends its welcome to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender seniors. With extensive senior services and housing at the Midwest’s biggest LGBT community center, state-recognized marriage equality, and the world’s best gay neighborhood, the Windy City has an outstanding climate for LGBT seniors.
A leading regional LGBT center
The LGBT Center on Halsted hosts about a thousand visitors daily, seven days a week. The Center provides services such as legal advocacy and health screenings in a complex that includes a Whole Foods grocery store, rooftop garden, gym, performance space, and a computer lab. For seniors, the Center and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders) partner to provide:
- lunch four days a week;
- volunteer-advocate training courses;
- benefits counseling;
- support groups;
- meditation classes; and
- film screenings.
Senior programming is offered at both the Center on Halsted and at the Center on Addison, one block south.
Innovative housing for LGBT seniors
In 2014, SAGE, the Center on Halsted, and the Heartland Alliance opened the Town Hall Apartments, one of the nation’s few developments specifically for low-income LGBT seniors. While the 80-unit complex and its wait list are currently full, the Center also helps seniors across Chicagoland find in-home renters and helpers through its HomeShare program. There is also a friendly visitor program that provides weekly volunteer visits to seniors who live alone.
When living at home is no longer the best choice, the Center on Halsted and Howard Brown Health Center have compiled a Senior Long-Term Care and Supported Living Guide. The guide focuses on LGBT-supportive centers that accept Medicaid and are within the city limits, such as Wesley Place on Foster Avenue, about 3 miles north of the Center on Halsted. Included are 15 Chicago retirement communities, with information about staff training, nondiscrimination policies, programs, and dedication to providing a welcoming environment.
Walkable, welcoming neighborhoods (and plenty of wedding venues)
The Center on Halsted is based in Boystown, an internationally recognized LGBT neighborhood that offers local boutique shopping, dining, dancing, theater, and art galleries in a walkable neighborhood just west of scenic Lakeshore Drive. Apart from daily activities and entertainment, Boystown plays host to an enormous Pride Festival each June, the two-day Market Days street fair in August, and a popular Halloween parade.
A few miles north of Boystown is Andersonville, another popular LGBT neighborhood that stands out for its overwhelming selection of locally owned businesses; eateries serving Swedish, Persian, Italian, Middle Eastern, and American food; and live theater and improv shows. Andersonville’s annual Midsommarfest street fair draws more than 50,000 visitors for shopping, food, and entertainment.
Beyond Boystown and Andersonville, Chicago goes out of its way to welcome new LGBT residents and visitors. The city’s visitors’ bureau lists the most popular and fun wedding venues for destination and local same-sex weddings. For seniors looking to ring in the golden years with wedding bells, and for LGBT elders looking for a supportive community, Chicago has a lot to offer.
Learn more about Chicago Senior Living here:
Find assisted living in Chicago near you.