In honor of Black History Month, the Bay Area Reporter has published an article entitled, “Black LGBT elders face isolation,” at http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=68482
The article interviews six Black or mixed-race LGBT people ranging in age from 40 to 64, and focuses heavily on the impact AIDS has had on this cohort. It also, however, contains a quote that speaks to “hidden” populations when they realize they are welcome somewhere:
“[Larry Saxxon] recalled being the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s first black social worker in the 1980s. ‘They said, “there may not be a lot of black clients, Larry,” Saxxon, who’s multi-racial, said. However he said, ‘The word came out, honey, and all of these black queens came flying in from the Tenderloin.'”
If you need a mood-boosting reminder of how much progress we’ve made around LGBT aging issues, check out PrideSource’s “What Am I Optimistic Abouse? LGBT Older Adult Needs Moving Forward,” at http://www.pridesource.com/guidearticle.html?article=57722
Southeastern Michigan’s Area Agency on Aging recently hired the nation’s second full-time LGBT aging specialist, and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging sponsored a statewide LGBT aging needs assessment with more than 1,000 respondents. Michigan volunteer efforts include three weekly LGBT older adult social groups hosted at Affirmations; Gay Elders of Southeast Michigan (which hopes to become a new SAGE affiliate); the Detroit Elder Project at KICK, which grew out of the first-in-the-nation African-American LGBT Elder Summit; and the LGBT Older Adult Coalition, which has trained more than 164 aging care workers at 24 different agencies. This year will be the third annual LGBT Older Adult Summit.
For more information, check out:
Gay Elders of Southeast Michigan http://Facebook.com/gesemich
KICK’s African-American LGBT Elder Summit http://www.E-KICK.org
LGBT Older Adult Coalition http://www.LGBTolderadults.com
On June 23, 2012, the Elder Project at KICK and the LGBT Older Adults Coalition are co-hosting the 2012 LGBT Older Adult Summit, which takes place from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the MSU Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward Avenue. Although the conference is free, pre-registration is required at http://www.LGBTOlderadults.com
The Summit follows up on two 2011 LGBT aging summits, one attracting primarily white suburban LGBT elders and the other addressing a predominately African-American audience. For an article summarizing those two summits, see http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=54142
They forgot to mention that Black Gay and Transgender Americans grow old, but otherwise the new Center for American Progress report, “Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality” is a must-have for those who want a more complete picture of our LGBT community.
Beyond the Broom “aim(s) to establish a common understanding and knowledge bank of the data and policy research on black gay and transgender people since no consolidated inventory of literature or data on the population’s issues currently exists.” Relying primarily on four large studies – each annotated at length – the report notes that “much of the academic research and data gathered on black gay and transgender populations is framed in disparities, victimization, and hardship.” There are lengthy passages on what’s happening to Black gay and transgender youth, and some data on health disparities and family structures.
The 48-page report is available for download at no cost at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/01/black_lgbt.html
It’s true: a picture is worth a thousand words. You’ll undoubtedly agree if you web surf over to “Hidden in the Open: A Photographic Essay of Afro American Male Couples from the Distant Past,” at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hidden-in-the-open/sets/72157624480472079/with/6643176983/
The collection spans more than a century, with images from the mid 19th century to as late as the 1980s. Many are accompanied by essays that reveal how African-American gay men met each other and survived in a hostile world. A long introductory essay discusses early styles of photography (see the sixth paragraph) as well as a critique of modern images of African-American gay men.
LGBT history is important to people who are or serve LGBT elders now not just because many of us lived through these experiences, but also because it’s important to really get that LGBT people have existed in all eras and places. This stirring collection is an important piece of the puzzle.
Want to support a key resource-in-development? Consider the Untitled Black Lesbian Elder Project, a documentary being produced by filmmaker Tiona McClodden and Lisa C. Moore, publisher of Red Bone Press. It will feature Black lesbians in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.
If you live in New York City, consider attending some of their fundraisers. If you don’t live in NYC, consider making other types of contributions. You can read more about this project at http://ubleproject.tumblr.com/ or check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Untitled-Black-Lesbian-Elder-Project/200050120031034