Though he was only in his 30s at the time, Alan Dinsmore read a book on aging in 1976 that resonated deeply. The book, “Why Survive: Being Old in America” got his personal wheels turning and aging issues were never far from his mind.
During his years working for the late U.S. Sen. Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who died in 1984, Dinsmore was on a special committee on aging. He later spent 27 years with the American Foundation for the Blind, which allowed him to tangentially address aging issues since blindness disproportionately affects the elderly.
About 15 years ago, some D.C.-area LGBT residents visited SAGE in New York (Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders) and were interested in a D.C. group but it wasn’t feasible at the time. Dinsmore was still working and didn’t have the time to devote to it but now that he’s been retired for about four years, he does. Last fall, the D.C. Center’s Elder Think Tank morphed into an official D.C. chapter of SAGE and Dinsmore succeeded Joe Kapp as its chair.
“For some time I had been interested in how we are going to approach the issue of providing services to ourselves and to manage those services,” Dinsmore, 68, says. “If you look carefully, most of the straight world depends on adult children. Certainly there are many LGBT folks who have adult children but not that many, so then the question becomes what do you do?”
The small group, for now, is trying to work within existing D.C. infrastructure to make sure local service providers are sensitive to LGBT issues, are friendly and welcoming to gays and have been properly trained. The group also wants to get the message out to elderly LGBT D.C.-area residents that there’s nothing to fear about being out in old age.
Dinsmore came to Washington from his native Miami in 1967 to work with the Department of Defense. He and his partner of 25 years, David, live in Alexandria.
Dinsmore enjoys reading, old cars and airplanes in his spare time. For more on Sage Metro D.C., visit sageusa.org or thedccenter.org. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
30 years, my father
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What is Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
All the old Eagle locations and now the Duplex Diner
Describe your dream wedding.
We would both wear plaid — nobody would believe virginal white.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
That the Holocaust would have never happened.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The Rolling Stones at JFK stadium
On what do you insist?
Respect for my life and the people who are important to me.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I don’t remember. Probably just a response to someone who’d contacted me. Some of these people who friend me, I don’t even know who they are.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“My Life and Hard Times”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I like us all the way we are.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Look at the pics from the Hubble Telescope — how can we say that there is nothing beyond us?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep focused and keep the grass roots involved.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Nobody welcome here except the young and gorgeous.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Strangers on A Train” – not LGBT themed but you just have to watch Robert Walker seduce Farley Granger into a murder scheme.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Facebook and Twitter
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Holding on to the knowledge that coveting these is not important.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Everything I know now so I could make better mistakes.
My longest career was as a lobbyist. Hard to do that in Ft. Lauderdale.