Joy SilverJoy Silver is the President and CEO of RainbowVision Properties. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico; RainbowVision provides premier resort & retirement living for the LGBT population. The first RainbowVision community opened in Santa Fe in November 2005 and another will open soon in Palm Springs. I asked Joy a few question to get her candid thoughts about money, retirement and building intentional communities.

1. How would you define emancipated living? What is RainbowVision doing to promote this within the aging LGBT community?
The term “emancipated living” is rough for me, as it sounds as if the slaves got freed, or a child has become independent of their parent, even though that child is still underage. I do, however, agree with the concept of moving from the idea of communities designed for ‘aging in place’ being somehow restricting to realizing that such a move is about expanding options.

There is a lot of discussion right now in the Senior Care and residential Services Industry about ‘Aging In Place’ being some kind of idealized and desired way for handling care needs. Let’s be frank – the idea of ‘Aging In Place’ is fabulous, if you already live in a community – otherwise you may ‘Age In Place’ alone, with a periodic care-taker, next to your phone and in front of your TV! Indeed, we all can site some tragic stories around this.

Rainbow Vision’s concept of Community for the Second 50 Years is redefining and setting the trend for Life Made Easy, and particularly for opening the option for the LBGT population to be in the majority — whether our members have health issues or not.

2. It’s been written that our LGBT identities have given us greater resilience in coping with the ups and down of growing old. Do you agree with this statement?
What I see in both the LGBT population and the mainstream population is that we are all looking for the words to describe Aging in a way that doesn’t make us feel enfeebled or powerless or vulnerable. Baby Boomers, and in the LGBT population that extends to the even older demographic called The Matures – are not comfortable with growing old — or at least what the picture of aging has looked like up to now. The word “retirement” is currently in the process of redefinition – and I am finding that Retirement Age has now become Life Redefinition Time – we are looking to decide how we want to spend our time and what we want our life to look like. It’s the moment when we say, “we’ve been there, done that, now what?”

3. Do many of your residents still work?
Yes. Our members are in different places in their lives – some work full time, some have set up office in their RainbowVision home, some work part time – and some are not currently working. We range from 44 all the way through 95, and we have people who work for RainbowVision who are all ages as well, up to 72 years old. It’s about purpose!

4. In a recent study it was found that lesbian women are less financially prepared for retirement than gay men and are less likely to have purchased long-term care insurance. What’s holding women back from proper planning?
I am not sure that we are comparing apples to apples here. Women plan in a different way, and have a different set of criteria and value around money and financial planning. We found that lesbians actually have more assets than gay men (Startling info!) whereas gay men have more income. All that is to say that women plan differently for retirement, tend to be risk adverse, are hesitant about spending money to make money, and therefore do not realize the greater investment gains that men do.

When we get down to it – women hold on to their money thinking that it will diminish if they take a chance, and men tend to feel that they always have the opportunity to make more, later. I would say that women need to examine how they feel about money and budget differently so the sense of security can be realized, and men need to be more realistic as to how they spend.

5. If you could add one new amenity to the property in Santa Fe, what would it be?
Tennis Courts! Is there anything else on your wish list? I would like to see our roof top café operating sooner, rather than later

6. Is there an art of aging?
I think the ‘Art of Aging’ is about accepting that it is happening – in fact as soon as we are born it starts! And continually finding a purpose to serve in life. What role does money play in this chapter of life? Money, as a dear friend taught me, can be seen as stored energy. And energy gets things done!

7. The author, Mitch Anthony concludes that retirement is an unnatural condition and believes that even if you can afford to retire, the worse thing you can do is withdraw completely from the race. How can intentional communities impact the quality of life for an aging LGBT population?
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Anthony – as I see it, “to retire” is actually a place of decision – it seems to now mean having the option to decide how to spend time, and for what purpose. Intentional community may be the answer to creating harmony in the world. Studies prove that isolation leads to rapid degeneration, mental physical and spiritual problems. Quality of life can only be improved for our population – caring, loving supportive community can be that answer.

8. What are your personal plans for retirement?
Like so many of our generation (Baby Boomers) and our population (Lesbian) I will continue to find purpose in life and work towards those goals of making the world a bit better than the way I found it.

9. Name a celebrity who is growing old gracefully and a good role model for gays and lesbian?
I would have to say Billie Jean King is a fabulous example of aging gracefully — she constantly serves to improve the world around her at every turn – she is an inspiration to all of us.

10. Does money buy happiness?
It has been said that “people are as happy as they decide to be”. I think that happiness takes commitment — it’s a way of looking at one’s life. If we don’t know how to be happy without money, why would we assume that skill would be acquired if we do have it?

More about Joy Silver
Joy Silver is responsible for the creation of the RainbowVision. Creating GLBT communities has been a goal of hers for 27 years – and this year marks the company’s success. Joy’s experience includes 25 years in the music business, Resort Sales Management for Sunrise Springs Inn & Retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Choices Women’s Medical and Mental Health Centers, in NYC. She was a member of the SAGE Sub-Committee for Senior Housing in NYC, and currently a member of LGAIN (Lesbian Gay Aging Issues Network) at American Society for Aging.

Joy is frequently called on by LGBT and mainstream organizations to present information on LGBT seniors. This year she will be speaking at the Reaching Out Conference in Chicago (GLBT MBA’s) and she will be speaking at ASA as well as AASHA (American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) in 2006. She is also a board member for the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. Joy holds an MA in Women’s Studies, and a BA in Political Science.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.