AUSTIN (KXAN) — With June recognized as Pride Month, a nonprofit is launching an effort to connect those who care for aging members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Austin area with much-needed resources and support services.
AGE of Central Texas will host its first-ever LGBTQ+ Caregivers Conference on June 11. The event will last from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Atria at the Arboretum, located at 9306 Great Hills Trail in Austin.
It will include a presentation on how to be an effective caregiver as well as a resource panel of experts from the area talking about how to identify and access resources in the community that are supportive and affirming for LGBTQ+ caregivers. A roundtable of LGBTQ+ caregivers will also discuss their experiences and share solutions they found.
Rob Faubion, the organization’s chief community engagement officer, said it’s important to put on this kind of event, because there are no specific resources available locally as members of the LGBTQ+ community age here.
“We’re hoping that attendees of our conference can walk away with resources that will help them immediately in their caregiving journey, that they can walk away with the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey,” Faubion said. “Nobody here in Central Texas, no matter what your circumstances as a caregiver, should ever feel like you are alone in your journey. There are resources to help you and so we’re hopeful that attendees will be able to walk away with access to resources to assist them in their journey, along with the knowledge that the work that they are doing is very precious to someone who loves them very much.”
According to the Williams Institute, a research center affiliated with the UCLA School of Law, the Austin metro area has the third-highest percentage of people who identify as LGBTQ+ in the country. Its numbers from March 2021 show 5.9% of the population is LGBTQ+, which equals about 90,000 people. Only the San Francisco/Bay Area in California (6.7%) and the Portland, Oregon area (6%) had higher percentages reported by this research center than Austin. The Williams Institute stated it calculated these rankings after reviewing data from the Gallup Daily Tracking survey.
Faubion’s involvement with this event is personal, because he not only cares for his aging parents but also his husband, who he said has mild cognitive impairment.
“It’s much easier to find the resources caring for my parents than it is to find resources for caring for my husband, even though we’re actually dealing with the same diagnosis on both sides,” Faubion said. “Finding a care partner in the community to find those professional resources, those medical resources, that understand the cultural difference, and that understand that this is my husband — this isn’t my friend or my roommate or someone that I’m just being nice and taking care of. This is someone that I have a very intimate relationship with and have for more than two decades, and being able to find the resources that will honor that and then be supportive not only of our relationship, but as of me as the caregiver as well.”
He hopes this conference will serve as the start of helping other people in the community facing similar circumstances and situations.
“There is a lot of advocacy that has to happen many times with LGBTQ caregivers in order to receive full support from their care partners and providers, and that is part of what we’re hoping will change here in the future,” Faubion said. “But also it’s something that we want to educate the attendees at the conference that you can’t always expect to pick up the phone and the person on the other side to understand your journey. So often you have to provide some education to them, so they understand the specifics of what is happening in your world.”
AGE of Central Texas reserved space at next Saturday’s LGBTQ+ Caregivers Conference for 70 attendees. Registration is required beforehand, but the event is free to attend. People can register on the AGE of Central Texas website or by calling (512) 600-9275.