Europe’s first gay nursing home has opened in Berlin, Germany, with the full support of the capital city’s openly gay Mayor Klaus Wowerei.

The four-storey state-of-the-art facility is set to provide care for up to 28 patients, with private bathrooms and space to accommodate their furnishings and belongings. The idea was first proposed at the 1995 Gay and Grey Forum in Cologne.

“When you are old the last thing that you want to do is to have to hide. And you certainly don’t want to give up your identity and live in some hostile environment, possibly sharing a room with someone who despises you,” Christian Hamm, the home’s architect and a board member, told Germany’s DPA Press Agency.

In addition, many gays and lesbians never have children who might otherwise provide some care for them as they get older.

A recent US study showed that lesbian, gay, or bisexual people often create networks of peers who support each other during their senior years.

“These findings contradict old myths about elderly gay people leading lonely lives of quiet desperation,” said Dr. Robert-Jay Green, executive director of the Rockway Institute, a national centre for LGBT research and public policy.

“LGB seniors create vibrant communities of care that overcome the difficulties posed by discrimination or by greater levels of rejection from their biological families,” he said.

It is envisaged that the Berlin home will expand into a much bigger old-age complex which will one day offer residents spacious apartments, a café, a health-care centre and function rooms.

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