Creating a better life for LGBTQ+ people affected by dementia

LGBTQ+ Dementia Advisory Group members Dáithí Clayton, Chris Maddocks and Mike Parish want to improve life for people affected by dementia who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer plus. 

Dáithí: The LGBTQ+ Dementia Advisory Group starts from a space of ‘We are queer folk’.

I don’t want my core identity erased or ignored, I want it front and centre and celebrated, not pathologised.

Chris: Well, said! It’s a space where we can truly be ourselves. Very often in other meetings, you feel that you can’t always talk about your sexuality, but on the advisory group that’s what it’s all about.

Mike: When you’re around predominantly heterosexual people, how do you talk about some of the difficulties of being a gay person, which they may or may not be willing to hear? 

For 20 years, my husband and I could not be affectionate with one another in public, even with family. The social conditioning wasn’t there for me to feel good about it. 

The legacy of that is nurses or other clinicians don’t understand us, they’ve never known us as a couple in a loving relationship. I feel inhibited by that. Can you imagine feeling inhibited at that critical moment of your life together? 

The group helps to voice those differences, so people understand that. We’ve been running webinars to generate interest, networks and enquiries. They gave people an opportunity to hear those words, which they wouldn’t necessarily get easily elsewhere.

Mike Parish and Tom Hughes

Mike (right) with his husband Tom.

Chris: I would describe us as trailblazers. We have set the fire alight and we’re making ground. I hope we are setting that trail for younger people to follow behind us. 

We have started this ball rolling, a huge thing to do, and we want people to get on board and carry on the support. Not take over from us but work with us.

My hope is that it will encourage more people to join the advisory group. 

Dáithí: It’s not only LGBTQ+, we’re also battling ageism and ableism, all of these things, and as the momentum grows, hopefully there will be collaboration there. 

Chris: There are so many people out there, with so many gifts and talents. We want to use those talents. We need people to come and join us and be a part of this journey. 

Dáithí: We’re still glowing in the afterglow of the success of recent webinars. It was a lot of hard work, but we want to really prioritise what’s next. People’s lives are on the line. 

Mike: We’re a melting pot of ideas and people positively putting things into action. We’re actually getting things done. 

Chris: We haven’t got all the time in the world, and I want to do what I can whilst I can. It’s no good saying to me, ‘Oh, you can do this five years down the line.’

I don’t know if I’ll be here, so we’ve got that urgency to do things now.

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Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now