SAGE wants your story!
You have until 5:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 6, 2013, to submit your answers to these questions: What does ‘community’ mean to you? How do you stay connected to the people who matter most to you?
You can submit your answers in writing (300-500 words), as a video, as a photograph (up to 3 MB), or as a podcast.
Although copyright will remain with you, your submission gives SAGE the right to share your submission on their website. SAGE will select and post the top entries, and visitors will vote on their favorite (between November 7-21, 2013) to determine the winner of a $50 Amazon gift certificate.
For more information and to enter, go to http://www.sageusa.org/programs/sagestory-share.cfm
For Coming Out Day 2013, Ebony magazine published a profile of Ty Martin, a 65-year-old Black gay man who serves as SAGE’s Harlem Community Liaison.
Ty is also one of three older LGBT people featured in the new documentary, Before You Know It, which is currently raising funds for distribution (see http://beforeyouknowitfilm.com/). In the Ebony profile, he talks about how Harlem has changed for LGBT people, and then concludes,
“I wish I could say something profound about being Black, gay and a senior in Harlem but my story is pretty much the same as anyone else. We all want to be connected to somebody.
“Why do you think churches are full on Sunday? People want to find some connection. Or else, why do they go? I think it’s the same reason why clubs are packed on Saturday. [Laughs.]
“At the end of the day everyone wants someone to talk to and feel connected to.”
The full article is available at http://www.ebony.com/news-views/national-coming-out-day-a-seniors-story-304#axzz2hQy611wH
It’s over a year old now, and more than 1,100 participants have registered for the SAGE Center, the first senior center devoted to LGBT older adults.
“I actually see people’s faces change,” says a front desk staffer. “They come in looking like they’re carrying the weight of the world, but are soon smiling when they see all of the people.” “For many LGBT older adults,” the article at Chelsea Now continues, “a beautiful center specifically for them to gather, dine and learn in may have been hard to imagine. The SAGE Center represents a movement to acknowledge and respect the lives of LGBT seniors. For the guests, this is just as imporant as the nutritional content of their meals.”
You can read more at http://chelseanow.com/2013/03/beyond-the-balsamic-bbq-chicken-sage-center-dinners-offer-camaraderie/
SAGE has launched a wonderful new online resource, SAGE Story, a new national storytelling initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexaul and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
The project, headquartered online at http://sageusa.org/programs/sagestory.cfm, was launched to “create a national voice on aging issues shaped by the insights and actions of LGBT older people. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the storytelling skills — and draw on the unique life experiences — of LGBT elders to diversify the public narratives on aging, long-term care and LGBT rights. Four sections highlight different story-telling methods:
– “See” features still pictures of LGBT older adults holding up hand-drawn signs that (at least currently) answer the question, “What would help you live a joyful and healthy life as you age”?
– “Watch” is a collection of short videos on a range of topics.
– “Listen” are audio-only podcasts of individuals’ stories.
– “Read” features written opinion pieces and much more.
The project actively solicits submissions, and SAGE is rolling out (first in New York, then nationwide) skillbuilding workshops to help older adults contribute. “We will also partner with storytelling experts and policy-based organizations to bring these stories into the current public and political conversations.”
Have you seen SAGE’s new blog? (It’s at http://blog.sageusa.org/) The Huffington Post has, yesterday reposting “Moving on From Hurricane Sandy: One Older Gay Man’s Story of Love and Loss” (at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/damien-wade/moving-on-hurricane-sandy_b_2677278.html)
The article is about James McCormick, 72, and his partner David Maxwell, 65, a couple of five years’ standing. James, a stroke survivor, was living safely in a nursing home when Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island and drowned David in their home. The balance of the article, written by James’ SAGE Case Manager Damien Wade, talks about how a variety of agencies, officials, and individuals have come together to support James and help him bury David. Veterans Affairs not only paid for David’s burial (he was a Vietnam vet), but also paid for James’ transportation to the funeral and gave him the flag the Armed Forces and the President provided for David’s funeral. Today it hangs in James’ room at the nursing home.
SAGE is currently working to arrange transportation for James so he can attend SAGE programming at the Staten Island LGBT Community Center. Damien concludes, “Hurricane Sandy changed James’ life. It impacted us all. In times like these, we are reminded of the power in our communities when we band together to help one another.”
It has been well-proven that social isolation is a risk factor for a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions, and elders who do not leave their homes for any reason are at most risk.
To counteract this threat, SAGE (New York) has begun to sponsor a telephone support group and friendship circle for homebound LGBT older adults anywhere in the country, facilitated by a social worker. To get more information, including dates and times, and to sign up, contact Preston Wholley at 212-741-2247 or pwholley [at] sageusa [dot] org
This week as part of its “Neediest Cases” series, the New York Times ran a story on SAGE client Thomas Gutowski, 65.
The article discusses Mr. Gutowski’s decent into substance abuse and homelessness, and his luck in a lottery that got him an apartment in a Trump-owned building. But it was getting involved in SAGE last year that really changed his life. “For the first time in 15 years, through that organization, I’ve made friends,” he said.
SAGE also helped him get emergency rent assistance when his shifting finances threatened his apartment, and has arranged for friendly visitors while he goes through a grueling treatment regime for newly-diagnosed hepatitis C. You can read the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/nyregion/former-drug-addict-clings-to-his-lucky-address.html?_r=0
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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
CNN Health took on LGBT aging this week with an overview article, “Retirement options grow as gay boomers find more mianstream acceptance.”
Bob Witeck, CEO and co-founder of Witeck Communications, is quoted extensively in the article, talking about how life has changed for LGBT older people, including how many — like him — don’t expect to retire.
The article also reviews recent LGBT aging policy changes, and features quotes by Michael Adams of SAGE and Laurie Young of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. It’s currently available at http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/09/health/lgbt-retirement/index.html
If you’re in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, see if you can make it to Dirksen Senate Office Building Room SD-562 at 10 a.m. for a two-hour briefing on the “economic issues, and proposed policy solutions, facing vulnerable older people, notably Black elders; Hispanic elders; Asian and Pacific Islander elders; American Indian and Alaska Native elders; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders.”
Expected speakers include:
- Michael Adams, Executive Director, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
- David Affeldt, Association Nacional Pro Personas Mayores
- Randella Bluehouse, Executive Director, National Indian Council on Aging
- Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging
- Christine Takada, President and CEO, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging
- Doua Thor, Executive Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
- Daniel Wilson, Director of Policy and Program Development, National Caucus & Center on Black Aged, Inc.
The briefing will debut a new policy report, which GrayPrideParade will review soon. For more information on the briefing and/or to RSVP, contact Jason Coates at 202-347-9733 or jcoates (at) nhcoa.org.