Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs is taking an active role as co-sponsor of this year’s Positively Aging + Reunion Project Conference on Saturday, September 18 — which is also National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. The conference takes place virtually on Zoom from 9 AM to 2 PM, and is free and open to the public.
Our contributions to the conference include a talk by Brian de Vries, Ph.D., entitled “That’s what friends are for…”: Friendship and LGBTQ Persons in the Second Half of Life. Dr. de Vries’s talk was organized by our own Christopher Christensen.
In an interview with LKAPS, Dr. de Vries wrote that he will be reviewing recent social science research on the benefits of friendship, especially for LGBTQ people whose lives challenge the emphasis on traditional family values in western culture. He will share stories of LGBTQ older adults who serve as primary caregivers for friends, particularly for persons living with HIV; how LGBTQ people define their “chosen families”; and grief over the death of a good friend that may be unrecognized in a culture focused on family. “The experiences of friendship for LGBTQ+ persons highlight the life-enhancing potential of friendship,” both for those we call friends, and ourselves as friends to others, Dr. de Vries told us.
Dr. Brian de Vries is Professor Emeritus of Gerontology at San Francisco State University. His research and writing during his academic career has focused on LGBT health, aging, and friendship. His expertise is reflected in the more than 125 academic journal articles and book chapters he has authored or co-authored, as well as over 200 presentations on the social and psychological well-being of midlife and older LGBT persons, among other topics. Dr. de Vries has served on the Board of the American Society on Aging (ASA), and helped oversee the publication of the influential book The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.
Other LKAPS members participating in this year’s conference include Richard Bass, founder of PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors), and Alex Snell, a trained end-of-life doula. Both will appear on a panel discussion about caregiving.
Don’t forget to register to attend on September 18!