This Saturday in Pierce County there will be a free town hall designed to include and support the aging LGBTQ population, along with the issues they're facing.
Patricia McIntyre, founder of the nonprofit Tacoma Older LGBT, is at the forefront of the conversation in the south sound.
"If you ask someone, ‘tell me what your vision is of somebody who is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender,’ they will describe them as somebody younger. Somebody who probably doesn't have this gray hair," says McIntyre.
McIntyre is 67 and a lesbian. She's part of a population that she says isn't commonly talked about.
"There are some unique differences as aging LGBT folks."
McIntyre says she and others came out during a less open time. After Patricia left the military she was fired from her first job as a social worker.
"My director said, ‘we don't want any of our people to think we have a pedophile.’ He wasn't saying that I was a pedophile, but he was saying there was a perception that anyone in the LGBT community could be pedophiles and this is in the 1970s."
McIntyre says moments like that have made people afraid to be open.
"All the history of people being committed to mental institutions. Folks being in jail because it was illegal back then," she said.
While times have changed in some ways, these experiences have had a lasting impact on a population who Patricia says is less likely to seek services as they age.
"They're the last ones to go and get medical help. They delay it until it becomes very serious."
Patricia says isolation is also an issue
"What's going to happen to me? Who's going to take care of me? I don't have a daughter like my mother did, I don't have that person you know."
Patricia says she's lucky to have longtime best friend, Laurie Heckel.
"Her and her husband have been very supportive of me. I can't ask for better friends," said McIntyre.
For McIntyre, she said it’s about fostering a supportive community to help people get by.
"As an older LGBT person it's having those friends and having long-term friends I think that help us survive."
“LGBTQ Aging in Pierce County” is a free town hall forum designed to help shape a more inclusive and age-friendly community. Registration and social begins at 12:30 p.m., town hall begins at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Korean Women’s Associations (KWA), 123 E. 96th St. in Tacoma.