In the latest episode of the LTC Heroes podcast, we speak with Jane Fleishman, Ph.D., Certified Sexuality Educator at Speaking Of, LLC. Jane is the author of The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging.
In the episode, we discuss the book in detail. The book shares the experiences of nine elders in the LGBTQ community who came of age around the time of the Stonewall rebellion.
There aren’t many books about the LGBTQ elders’ experience, which makes the book stand out. When Jane finished her doctoral research on statistical research on LGBTQ elders and sexual satisfaction, she longed for the stories behind the numbers.
Jane heard back from a group of people who had come of age or came out as LGBTQ during the Stonewall rebellion, a very heavy, exciting time of political turmoil. Jane interviewed people and they seemed to like the idea of being called the Stonewall generation. That’s how the name and vision for the book came about.
In this episode, we hear all about the book, including common reactions from readers and about Jane’s learning curve.
Learn all about ‘The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging’ written by sexuality educator Dr. Jane Fleishman in the latest episode of the LTC Heroes podcast.
Why’s the book called The Stonewall Generation?
There aren’t very many books about the LGBTQ elder’s experience. And when I finished my doctoral research, which was statistical research on LGBTQ elders and sexual satisfaction, I longed for the stories behind the numbers. I wanted to hear people’s stories.
There was a group of people whose lives had been missed. And they were people who either came of age or came out as LGBTQ individuals during a time of very heavy, exciting political turmoil in the 1960s around the Stonewall Rebellion.
So I started calling them the Stonewall generation, and people liked it. I interviewed people all over the country.
The people I interviewed liked that I was giving them a name. They were no longer the baby boomers. They were the Stonewall generation. And they took to that.
Did you know that you would have peers and long-term care workers reach out to you and ask you to teach their employees?
It wasn’t a shock because this is where I spend most of my time, most of my work as an educator, is in long-term care. I go to assisted living communities, nursing homes, senior centers, and many long-term care places where people are already interested in one taboo topic: sex.
When I introduced the second taboo topic about LGBTQ elders, people scratched their heads. Most of the places that I go to they’re all about it. Because there are many caring, amazingly compassionate people that I’ve connected with who are pretty forward-thinking and want to hear about this.
There’s also a lot of training in my state in Massachusetts about how to care for LGBTQ elders in long-term care. And I have to say, I’m always surprised at the compassion that’s out there with the general public. And I’m always thrilled when I see the compassion that people in long-term care have for all different types of individuals.
What has been your learning curve?
When I first got my Ph.D. in human sexuality, I thought, great, I’ll go to sexuality conferences and talk to them about older adults having sex. Well, most sexuality professionals thought: So? Everybody has sex, we know that, we’re sexuality professionals. I realized, okay, good learning.
The second thing I learned was when I went to long-term care communities, people are very hip to the idea that older people can be well in many different dimensions.
They talk about wellness in so many different ways. But they don’t know very much about sexuality. What they know about sexuality is non-consensual, non-mutual sexual abuse. So I realized that I’m on a mission to promote the sexual wellness of older adults, particularly those living in long-term care and those from marginalized populations, like LGBTQ seniors.
Has anything changed the way you approach your talks?
One way I’ve changed is that I now find out what the religious affiliation is of the place I’m going to. So here’s two examples where I’ve gotten into trouble.
Once I went to a facility that was run by the diocese. So it was a Catholic church, and I put out condoms and lube like I always do. I always put a basket in my office of condoms, dental dams, lube, and people love it.
People go crazy. The staff loves it; the older adults love it. I never come back with any, and that’s my goal.
At the beginning of the talk, one of the guys said to me; you can’t pass out condoms here. That was good to learn.
The second time I learned, it was when I said the word masturbation in another religious institution, this one run by the Salvation Army.
I was allowed to stay but at the end, someone told me we don’t use that word around here. So I’ve learned to do a little bit more research.
Do you have a website?
Yeah, it’s https://www.janefleishman.com/ On the homepage is a discussion guide. You can use it in a community setting.
It’s a way for people to think about inclusion and visibility. And those are two keywords that came up again and again for me when I was writing the book.
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