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Q & A: Aging Gayfully with Julien Rougerie

March 2023

Struck by the invisibility of senior members of the 2SLGBTQI community, Julien Rougerie joined Fondation Émergence in April 2017 to support their cause as Program Manager of Aging Gayfully, a program to raise awareness about sexual and gender diversity among seniors. He offers training to professionals on how to make their services more welcoming and more inclusive to seniors of the 2SLGBTQI community. Since 2019, Julien has also specialized in working with 2SLGBTQI caregivers.

Q: How did you first become interested in working with seniors of the 2SLGBTQI community? 

I must admit it was mainly due to chance. I was really drawn to the subject after hearing about Fondation Émergence’s Aging Gayfully program. I wasn’t working for them yet, but this program made me realize the extent to which seniors of the LGBTQ2+ community are invisible in society, even in the LGBTQ2+ community itself. I quickly started to think about what their living conditions must be like, especially concerning housing. I felt saddened by this, because it’s thanks to the generations before us that today’s sexual and gender minorities can benefit from better rights and greater inclusion. 

Q: Can you tell me more about the work carried out by Fondation Émergence on matters of interest to 2SLGBTQI seniors? 

Fondation Émergence has established what is probably the first program in Canada dedicated to raising awareness about sexual and gender diversity among seniors. In 2009, our founder, Laurent McCutcheon, a great LGBTQ2+ rights activist in Quebec, created the Aging Gayfully program. On the precipice of old age himself, he recognized the invisibility of LGBTQ2+ people among seniors. He even noticed that some of his friends, activists themselves, had a tendency to go back in the closet. Since 2009, we have therefore been developing training and tools to raise awareness on this issue specifically. 

Q: What does an overview of the French resources and support for 2SLGBTQI seniors look like in Canada? 

The resources for LGBTQ2+ seniors in Canada are limited, and for French speakers outside of Quebec, the resources that do exist are rarely accessible. What we’re witnessing is therefore that these people experience two levels of discrimination: the fact of being LGBTQ2+ people as well as being a linguistic minority. The Aging Gayfully program is offered throughout Canada, in French and English. However, as it’s a Quebecois program and therefore predominately in French, it is rarely referenced outside of Quebec. 

Q: Can you talk to us about a recent initiative or collaboration that you’re passionate about? 

In 2019, we created the Chosen Family program for LGBTQ2+ caregivers. Of course, this subject is connected to that of LGBTQ2+ seniors, and we’ve quickly become a reference on the subject used by people both in Quebec as well as abroad. We have worked with Quebec’s government to establish a new law that recognizes LGBTQ2+ caregivers and have been contacted by the World Alzheimer Report to acknowledge this issue in their annual report.