The Los Angeles LGBT Center threw a Tuscan-themed garden party last weekend in support of LGBT elders.
The event, which was held at the private residence of Michael R. Mueller and Nick Bode in the tony L.A. neighborhood of Hancock Park, raised funds for programs, care, and housing for members of this at-risk demographic, who, after a lifetime of discrimination, often lack the resources and support networks of their straight counterparts.
The cause drew a star-studded crowd that included Shelley Morrison (Will & Grace), Sherri Saum (The Fosters), Peter Paige (The Fosters, Queer as Folk), Robert Gant (Queer as Folk), Emerson Collins (The People's Couch), Blake McIver (The People's Couch), Carolyn Hennesy (You're Killing Me, General Hospital), Wes Ramsey (Pretty Little Liars), Peter Marc Jacobson (The Nanny, Happily Divorced), Harvey Guillen (Eye Candy), Christian Taylor (Eye Candy), and Allison Scagliotti (Stitchers, Warehouse 13).
Cohosted by Mueller and Carolyn Dye and sponsored by U.S. Bank, the event also featured singing from Gail Beckman and Gregory Franklin, Italian-inspired hors d'oeuvres and cocktails by Milani Catering, and a live auction for a Palm Springs getaway conducted by Bruce Vilanch.
In the spirit of the occasion, The Advocate asked the special guests for advice they would give to LGBT people under 40 as they prepare for the journey of growing older. From financial to spiritual to practical, here are 10 pearls of wisdom they offered.
Photo credit: Betsy Martinez
1. "Stop chasing your 20s."
"Respect your elders, and listen to them and the ones that came before you. Really think about the future. Don't just think backwards, but think forwards. I think we're so youth-obsessed, especially in our 20s and 30s. I'm happier than I've ever been at 30. I'm thrilled that my 20s are over." -- Blake McIver (Bravo's The People's Couch)
2. "Get your finances in order."
"The heart will take care of itself, but your finances won't. Listen, research, learn, read, get everything in order, save, save, save, and invest as best as you can. Because no one's gonna take care of us but us." -- Carolyn Hennesy (You're Killing Me,General Hospital)
3. Don't drink or do drugs.
"Take care of your body. [Substance abuse] is a huge problem in our community, and I think a lot of young people are really not taking that into account. They do a lot of drugs. They do a lot of drinking. And I think [a healthy lifestyle] is one of the keys to getting older." -- Christian Taylor (Eye Candy)
4. "Have a strong support system..."
"...whether that's the family you were born into, and, if that one is not as supportive as you'd like them to be, be sure that you surround yourselves with friends and build your own family, so that regardless of the things that you attempt to endeavor in, in your life, that there are people to catch you when you fall." -- Emerson Collins (The People's Couch)
5. "Plan your play, and play your plan."
"Save your money. Get involved. Don't wait until it's too late. ... Try to plan for your future. Try to have a plan in your head of what's next. I was talking to my friend the other day -- it gets scary. I'm 57, and time goes quickly. You think [when you're young], I don't have to worry about anything. But you do! You have to plan." -- Peter Marc Jacobson (The Nanny,Happily Divorced)
6. "Community, community, community."
"Build community. Surround yourselves with people. ... A really common theme for the aging LGBT community is isolation. We don't all have nuclear families to take care of us and support us as we age, so it's really, really important to surround yourself with friends and people that really understand and want to be there for you." -- Peter Paige (The Fosters,Queer as Folk)
7. "Don't be afraid to ask for help when it's necessary."
"I think there's this stigma around admitting that you need assistance, like it's admitting failure. And it isn't. I think asking for help is a sign of bravery."-- Allison Scagliotti (Stitchers,Warehouse 13)
8. Write a will.
"Save your money. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. I've just now begun looking into wills myself, which sounds like, 'Oh, that's what old people do!' But regardless of your sexual orientation, you need to look out for your future and for your offspring or your loved ones, to make sure they're taken care of. So spend that money wisely, and save that money wisely." -- Sherri Saum (The Fosters)
Cochair Carolyn Dye, cochair Michael Mueller, and Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean
9. No kids? Be prepared for the realities that come with living alone.
"Some [LGBT people under 40] will have kids, but probably, most of them do not. ... Seniors -- and they're just a few years away from being seniors -- are much more likely to live alone. They need to think about how they're gonna be taken care of in their golden years. And of course, that's what the center's thinking about, too. We've got to figure out how we're going to take care of these generations of people who, unlike their straight counterparts, don't have children and family members who will be there for them." -- Lorri L. Jean (CEO, Los Angeles LGBT Center)
10. Take a tour, learn from, and get involved with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
"My father said it best when I was a young kid in the Bronx -- I must have been 7 years old -- and he told me the key to everything as you live your life is knowledge. Knowledge. I'm a very curious person. If I don't know about something, I want to find out about it. Listen. Watch. Be involved. Talk to each other. We can't do it all on our own now. We have to find the people that are resonating with us. ... [Make sure to] have enough to take care of yourselves and your family. And if you don't have enough, [know] where to go to seek help. ... Come and visit. It'll be a reality check." --Shelley Morrison (Rosario on Will & Grace)