CommunityWire: 70- & 80-Year-Old Nursing Home Residents March Proudly at NYC Pride March

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This was a pride celebration like New York has never seen! For a fourth year in a row, older residents from an Upper West Side skilled nursing facility proudly traveled to downtown Manhattan on Sunday, June 30, 2019 to join thousands from around the world in New York City’s Pride March.

Nearly 75 residents, staff members, family and friends of The New Jewish Home marched and rolled, in recognition of WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Decked out in rainbow t-shirts, hats and waving Pride flags, the older adults high-fived the cheering crowd and distributed dozens of rainbow flower pins handmade by the resident-led Hand in Hand volunteer committee.

For one nursing home resident, the event was an emotional experience that proved acceptance has come a long way.

Edwin Emmerling, 77, said, “Participating in the Pride March brought up a lot of emotions for me and I’ve been going to the March since the 1980s. This year, there was an overwhelming outpouring of joy and acceptance. It was a meaningful recognition of the struggles my peers and I experienced in our youth and a true celebration of how far we’ve come. I remember how apprehensive I felt about sharing with others my sexual orientation—if I grew up in this generation, I wouldn’t have had to be so vigilant. But we need to continue to march for full acceptance and I’m happy that The New Jewish Home supports its residents who want to march at Pride each year.”

Carrying the organization’s banner was Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, The New Jewish Home’s Director of Spiritual Care & Religious Life.

Rabbi Malamy said, “The New Jewish Home is a welcoming and supportive community for older adults, and it’s important that we make it possible for our residents to participate in an event that is important to them. Each year, our group grows larger as more residents, staff members and volunteers want to march to embrace Pride and choice.”

The New Jewish Home, a comprehensive, mission-driven health care system serving older New Yorkers since 1848, received “Gold” credentials from SAGECare (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders) for its commitment to creating a welcoming and inviting environment for LGBT older adults.