When David Webb, a real estate investor from the San Francisco Bay Area, and his longtime partner, Lynn McLaughlin, were looking to retire, they thought they’d give Naples, Fla., a try. “We were the token gay couple,” says Webb, 62. Invitations to dinner parties were frequent. But when a local country club refused them admission–not an isolated incident in the conservative enclave–it felt like discrimination. Webb finally said to his partner, “Enough already. Let’s live with our own.” The couple put a deposit down on a 2,000-square-foot home at Fountaingrove Lodge, an LGBT-friendly retirement community set to open this fall in Sonoma County, Calif.
The first of the 77 million baby boomers reached retirement age last year, in what’s being called the gray tsunami. According to Serena Worthington of the nonprofit Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), there are currently between 1.75 million and 4 million gays and lesbians over age 65. By 2030 their number is expected to nearly double.
Just as there are niche “affinity” communities popping up to serve tai chi enthusiasts, Catholics, and even Harvard grads, an increasing number of options now exist for LGBT seniors. Birds of a Feather Resort Community in Pecos, N.M., founded in 2004, announced plans to double in size, from 8 to 16 units, this year. In Los Angeles, management at Triangle Square, a 96-unit low-income facility with a nearly decade-long waiting list, recently broke ground on a second site, a $17.5 million project with 40 units, set to open in 2014. Similar gay-friendly retirement projects are under way in cities across the country–Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis–joining Rose Villa and Rainbow Vista, both in Portland, Ore.; Carefree Cove, near Boone, N.C.; and The Resort on Carefree Boulevard in Fort Myers, Fla.
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