Jet Beers and Lebrina Latupeirissa
What may seem as an ordinary canal house, has become one of the first residential home’s in the world owned by LGBT people aged over 55. Although the residents have moved in a month ago, the grand opening of the ‘Roze Hallen’ was held last Friday.
Josee Rothuizen is one of the residents and initiators. “Roze Hallen is an initiative of OutForever, and was part of the project ‘Build your own dream house in West’. Five different groups were selected by the municipality to develop their own sustainable residency, where they had to design the building, arrange the financial resources, apply for an environmental permit and prepare for construction. “What started as an idea for an elderly house for the LGBT community, turned into an apartment complex with 14 apartments and all LGTB people aged over 55.”
Rothuizen has experienced a certain need among LGBT elderly to grow old among people with the same sexual preferences. “As a homosexual or lesbian person, we shaped our lives in a way only those who experienced the same can understand. The older you grow, the more dependent on others you become. You don’t want to have the feeling to explain them that you are gay all over again. You just want to be yourself.”
Rothuizen specifically states the initiative is not to distance LGBT people from heterosexual people. With the Roze Hallen, she wants to give homosexual and lesbians the option to choose with who they want to grow old.
De Roze Loper
De Roze Loper is a Dutch certificate for residential care, home care and welfare institutions which pays attention to sexual diversity among clients and professionals. One of the elderly homes with this certificate is the Dr. Sarphatihuis in Amsterdam. A spokesman for Dr. Sarphatihuis says De Roze Hallen is a good extension to the current Roze Loper. ‘De Roze Loper is for people from the LGTB community who are obliged to live in an elderly home. These people also have the need to live in a safe environment with like-minded people. I think it is a great initiative that there is a similar thing for elderly people outside of the regular elderly homes.’
When asking if the next generations will feel the same need as the elderly generation nowadays, Rothuizen answers: “Although we have made enormous steps in the acceptance of the gay community, the amount of suicides are four times hire among gay children compared to hetero children. The need to feel accepted is still there. I don’t know if the need is still there in the future, but at least they have an option.”
Feeling welcomed in West, the residents of Roze Hallen would like to profile themselves as open and approachable neighbors. As the first LGTB house for elderly, they want to set an example for other communities around them, and allow everybody the possibility to grow old in their own way.