We talked with volunteer Doug Kim Brown about the needs of older LGBTQ people and the highs and lows of organizing community in the Inland Northwest.
How would (someone) describe you?
I am married and have two grown children. I was a Headmaster/Director of a Boarding School and worked with youth for over thirty years. We love to travel. I enjoy literature, food, movies, and engaging with people. We currently are staying in our home north of Bonner’s Ferry where we have a small piece of property.
What do you do when you aren't working or volunteering?
These days, we are busy cutting brush on the property. I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, entertaining, concerts, kayaking, and snowshoeing.
Tell me how you first got involved in with the LGBTQ+ Seniors of the Inland Northwest and North Idaho Pride Alliance?
I saw a posting on Facebook by Nancy Avery for the LGBTQ+ Seniors of the Inland Northwest and decided to respond. Meetings are usually at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Spokane. It has been a great place to give back and hear the stories of seniors who have not had an easy time coming out. Or hearing about the financial challenges that so many have, things that I take for granted, like being able to buy groceries. I feel very fortunate in my personal circumstances that I can weather the Coronavirus with relative ease. For me, involvement has been an introduction to the needs of a largely invisible population.
Juli Stratton and I spoke about LGBTQ seniors once at a local club. After the presentation, I remember speaking to an individual involved with senior care who didn’t think there was a need to focus on aging LGBTQ people, and said there weren’t any gay people at the 400-bed facility he was involved in. I assured him there were some gay people there.
We have volunteered for Spokane Pride and Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene. In Coeur d’Alene, people were nervous about being seen or losing their job. They worried about being ostracized. I don’t know how to deal with that other than be affirming and present.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering for LGBTQ+ Seniors of the Inland Northwest or North Idaho Pride Alliance?
I enjoy connecting with people and having a sense of community. It’s something I feel like I can contribute to - whether it’s setting up chairs or answering questions.
What's your personal philosophy on what should be done about advocating and educating for LGBTQ people in North Idaho?
Idaho is a challenging state, all about individual freedom until it’s about something they don’t like. The best thing we can do is have a continuous sense of community through contact and connection. It’s really dismaying the level of ignorance and bias that seems to exist.
What do you wish other people knew about the LGBTQ+ Seniors of Inland Northwest?
Seniors need to have a sense of “Us” and experience the spectrum of age. Seniors need to be around young people and young people can benefit from being around seniors. Sometimes it feels segmented. I have always worked with youth. I once participated in a Senior LGBT Prom at Nyne in Spokane. There were also some young people there as well. People enjoyed that generational mixing and matching.
There are skills and art involved in organizing volunteers in an effective way to bring people together. No one is getting paid. Different organizations have different dynamics. I give a lot of credit to Nancy Avery (the coordinator) in keeping a steady base going. Being able to do something, create a sense of community and contribution becomes an act of affirmation.