Some LGBTQ+ people, having lived out and proud for years, find themselves back in the closet when they enter senior housing — something veteran activist LuAnn Boylan calls “a travesty.”
Now, as director of marketing and leasing at Living Out Palm Springs, Boylan aims to offer an option that won’t require closeting. Living Out, under construction in that California desert city, will be an apartment community for active LGBTQ+ people aged 55 and older. Designed in a contemporary interpretation of mid-century modern architecture, it will have 122 units (several different floor plans are available) and amenities including pools, a restaurant and bar (under the direction of celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken), a fitness center, a putting green, a dog park, housekeeping and concierge services, and more.
Living Out will be the first luxury LGBTQ+ senior community in Southern California, according to its developers. It had a groundbreaking in November, and the complex is expected to be ready for move-in early next year.
Boylan, a lesbian who’s a 30-year member of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s board of directors, says she’s talked to LGBTQ+ people who felt the need to hide their identity in senior housing, to the extent of taking down pictures of partners and others when housekeepers entered their homes.
“We’re the generation that butted up against the wall of discrimination and pushed our way through,” she says. “As we grow older and enter the last phase of life, it’s just a travesty to think any of us have to go back in the closet or become less authentic.”
Living Out is the brainchild of Loren Ostrow, a longtime friend of Boylan’s who has also served on the L.A. center’s board, and Paul Alanis, his business partner in the development firm KOAR International. It was Ostrow who brought Boylan into the project. “I have enormous respect for his abilities and his heart,” she says.
Living Out isn’t an assisted living complex, but it is designed for easy navigation, with elevators and other features so getting around won’t be difficult, Boylan says. It isn’t for residents on limited incomes either; monthly rent ranges from about $5,000 to upward of $7,000. But that includes all utilities and all the amenities, so residents will save what they’d spend on gym memberships, cleaning services, and other items.
“We feel pretty strongly that the value is there,” she says. Overall, she notes, Living Out is designed to offer a resort-style atmosphere.
Publicity about the groundbreaking has led to a flood of inquiries, Boylan says, and now 63 of the units have been reserved. She hopes for a diverse group of residents with an equal number of men and women, and so far the genders are about evenly represented, she says.
“I think one of the things that influences people is that Living Out has been conceived by and marketed by members of our community,” she says.
And, she says, those planning to live there are eagerly awaiting their move-in dates. One of them told her, “I’m excited about never having to own a home again, and I’m expecting cocktails at 5.”
This story is part of The Advocate’s 2022 Champions of Pride issue, which is out on newsstands May 17, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.