October 26, 2016

Michael Adams Joins Next Avenue's Influencers in Aging List

This month, SAGE CEO Michael Adams was acknowledged as one of Next Avenue's 50 "Influencers in Aging" — joining author Ashton Applewhite, "60 Minutes Correspondent" Lesley Stahl, fashion icon Iris Apfel, Carol Fishman Cohen, Disney’s Michael Eisner, Howard Gleckman, iconic television writer and producer Norman Lear, E. Percil Stanford and others in the annual list released this week.

The following was originally published on the Next Avenue website on October 26, 2016. Read the original post here.

Meet Next Avenue’s 2016 Influencers in Aging. These 50 advocates, researchers, thought leaders, innovators, writers and experts continue to push beyond traditional boundaries and change our understanding of what it means to grow older.

Michael Adams: Fighting for LGBT Elders
CEO, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Michael AdamsAdams has led SAGE, the country’s oldest and largest organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older adults, for more than 10 years. Issues that all aging people face, including health challenges, are often particularly complicated for LGBT older adults.

Adams, an attorney, has worked passionately on their behalf. He has reminded policymakers of the legacy of AIDS, for example, and pointed out that many older LGBT adults are living with HIV or are at risk of contracting it. He has spoken out on the lack of caregivers for LGBT adults.

Adams has also worked to forge alliances with other diverse elder groups, and he encourages younger LGBT individuals to honor the historic strides of their predecessors.

Read the Next Avenue press release.


"If I could change one thing about aging in America, it would be to re-shape the opportunities for older Americans so that they are equally available to the full diversity of our nation's older people. As of now, LGBT older people and elders of color are often at a disadvantage when it comes to the opportunities and supports that can help make aging an exciting life chapter."

See the full Influencers in Aging list on Next Avenue's website.


October 21, 2016

Gala Brings in Record Donations for LGBT Elders

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SAGE Participant George Stewart: "SAGE feels more like a family than an organization."
Photo: Dan Klein Photography

On October 17, LGBT leaders and allies came together for the 21st Annual SAGE Awards & Gala to honor those whose contributions have profoundly enhanced the LGBT aging community. Held at the Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, the event drew more than 800 attendees and raised a record $900,000 on behalf of LGBT elders across the country. SAGE CEO Michael Adams, who was recognized on his 10th year leading the organization, described the night as "a true testament to the generous support of our many partners."

See a timeline of the event on Storify.

SAGE unveiled two new national programs designed to help LGBT elders combat social isolation and strengthen ties across generations. In November, in partnership with the GLBT National Help Center, SAGE will launch the first-ever hotline for LGBT elders. In 2017, SAGE Table, produced in partnership with AARP, will bring together LGBT people and allies for a unique intergenerational experience in their communities.

See photos from the event on Flickr.

In his speech, SAGE participant and White House "Champion of Change" George Stewart drove home the importance of these programs: "It's no exaggeration to say that SAGE has added at least 10 years to my life." Watch "Nothing About Us Without Us," a video made for the event:

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Walking on the Backs of Those Who Died

By Pat Lin

Years after the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaged millions of lives, survivors carry on the stories of their loved ones and search for hope that a cure will be found. Photographer Lester Blum and Creative Director Vladimir Rios talk with SAGE about their works, “Warrior of Hope” and “I Still Remember,” both currently on exhibit at SAGE Center Midtown.

Remembrance 1

SAGE: Can you talk about the process behind creating your exhibits? What are similar themes throughout, and how are they in conversation with each other?

Blum: The similar theme is that they are both works of social implication. “Warrior” and “I Still Remember” are both about HIV and AIDs from slightly different perspectives. They both honor people who have passed. They are really designed as educational tools to increase awareness, to tell the younger generation what actually transpired.

Rios: Not only social implications but something everyone can relate to, not just the LGBT community. We happen to be gay, but every single aspect of our work has been tailored to society in general, not just gay society. Throughout all the work you see straight and gay people, you see people of color, minorities—a wide variety of people. We try to create something universal that everyone can relate to, either immediately or maybe with a little push. HIV is a hard subject for people to deal with even today. 

Blum: The themes are really universal. For example, “Warrior of Hope”—everybody needs hope, no matter what issues they have. The Warrior offers this hope. “I Still Remember”—if you really break down the story behind the exhibit, it’s about love, devastation and remembrance. The two main characters just happen to be male. The loss could be anything—cancer, age, or a car accident. It’s a universal story.

Rios and Lester

SAGE: In both of your works you two portray nude, older bodies. What does it mean to represent a body type not often seen in the mainstream?

Rios: We presented the nakedness in different shapes and sizes because naked is naked. Everyone is beautiful in different ways. We don’t all have “Chelsea boy” bodies. There’s a lot more to our society than being a “Chelsea boy.” We are all different—ages, color, body shapes; it doesn’t matter.

Blum: In “Warrior,” there was one man who was 82, and then a couple in their 70s. That whole 28-year-old “Chelsea boy” body perfection takes away the seriousness of the projects. It becomes a pretty calendar but it’s not reality. You do a scene like those presented in “Warrior of Hope” and “I Still Remember” with only “Chelsea boys,” and there would be no message presented.

Rios When it came to “I Still Remember,” the explicit nudity in some of the photographs was necessary to convey a message. We went to a sex club and filmed a sex scene. It’s just like the needles in the drug segment. Everything was real. We photographed it on the streets. When I did the doctor’s office scene, the doctor actually drew blood. I did everything as real as possible. It was done in this manner because I wanted to keep my integrity as an artist.

Conversation Moment

SAGE: This is an intergenerational collaboration. Can you speak to the ways your differences contributed to your work?

Rios: It’s weird to explain. Lester just turned 70. I just turned 46. It’s funny because every time we do a project we are in tune with the vision. Because we are best friends, we do a lot of things together. We have a similar thought process while often approaching projects from different perspectives.

Blum: I just think we bring different elements from our backgrounds together. It enriches the experience and the projects. Besides age, we come from two completely different backgrounds and heritages. Rios was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He worked for many years as a social worker, which gave him insight into the thinking of many individuals from all walks of life. Therefore he brings a different cultural and social heritage to the table. I was born in New York, raised in Texas, returned to New York over 40 years ago. My background was in the fashion industry, which gave me an artistic understanding and the ability to comprehend the corporate environment. This diversity of culture, upbringing, and work experiences mesh together, allowing us to create the strongest projects we can. If two people are actually listening to each other, which we consciously try to do, it widens the perspective. That is often a problem, particularly in my generation. They don’t want to listen. They are too set in their ways and thinking.

Scanning The World

SAGE: What do you think a commemorative piece that goes back into history tells us about moving forward?

Blum: I’m not so sure whether it tells us much about moving forward as much as it tells us what transpired. “I Still Remember” is a capsule of life during the pandemic of AIDS. It shows how an entire generation was lost. It teaches those 25 and younger that they’re basically walking on the backs of those who died. What happened during that ten-year span of time enabled those who followed to be the people they are today, even with all of today’s struggles. The younger generation can’t be complacent. They can’t just sit back. They can’t just pop PrEP and say that everything is fine. It’s still not. The disease is still here. People are still sick.

Rios: The exhibits are something for people to move forward with. We want people who are moving forward to stop for a moment and rethink their choices. We want people to witness the past so that they will think about their choices for the future.

Blum: You can’t just discount the past, like it didn’t exist. As long as someone can tell the story, the people aren’t really gone. They’re remembered.

Both exhibitions will move on to the LGBTQ Center of Durham, North Carolina, and to The Loft in White Plains, New York, for World AIDS Day 2016. See more of Lester Blum’s photography at http://www.lesterblumphotography.com.

October 10, 2016

The Silent Generation Speaks Out In New Docuseries

Longtime SAGE participant Sandy Warshaw will be featured in I’m From Driftwood’s new elder docuseries, "What Was It Like?" airing on XFINITY on Monday, October 10 (check your local listings).

In 2015, Warshaw joined other SAGE delegates at the White House Conference on Aging, a landmark convening which considered LGBT elder issues for the first time. During her speech, Warshaw responded to passing legislation to ban discrimination in nursing homes, saying, "I do not want to have to go back into the closet." For "What Was It Like?" Warshaw and other LGBT elders are drawing attention to an all but forgotten generation with their personal accounts.


For two weeks prior to public release, XFINITY TV subscribers can enjoy both the new series and the popular I’m From Driftwood web series On Demand and online.

To find "What Was It Like" on XFINITY On Demand, subscribers can use their voice remote to access all LGBT entertainment by saying "LGBT." For those with no voice remote, on X1: navigate to "Popular Destinations: LGBT Film & TV." On Native: Go to "On Demand: LGBT Film & TV." You can also find the program at xfinity.com/lgbt.

"LGBTQ elders have not only been asked to keep their stories and lives quiet and in the closet, but they’ve seen more progress in their lifetime than any other generation has or will," said Nathan Manske, Founder and Executive Director of I’m From Driftwood.

"We're incredibly grateful that Comcast and SAGE — the country's largest cable provider and the country's largest organization dedicated specifically to LGBTQ elders — are helping us collect and share these important stories."

I’m From Driftwood has collected more than a thousand stories since 2009.


October 7, 2016

PBS Takes a Look at the Most Intimate of Transformations

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 5.25.51 PM

On Monday, October 10, PBS will premiere From This Day Forward, a moving story by filmmaker Sharon Shattuck that documents her father’s transition from male to female. In the film, Shattuck reflects on her family history and its ability to change, adapt and survive.

Viewers can join in on social media with #FromThisDayForwardPBS following the program for a discussion with the filmmaker and producer. SAGE and Family Equality Council will join the conversation with additional context and resources.

Transgender people face discrimination and uncertainty on a daily basis in housing, healthcare and at work. According to SAGE’s Out and Visible report, 65% of transgender older people surveyed fear they will be denied medical treatment as they age. When searching for housing, 1 in 4 transgender older people reports discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, and 1 in 3 transgender older people fear they will not have the same employment opportunities if they identify openly at work.

This fall, From This Day Forward will be available to communities, organizations and campuses across the nation. For a list of upcoming screenings or to host a screening of your own, visit fromthisdayforwardfilm.com. Check your local listings at pbs.org, and thanks to POV for sharing this important film!

Do you think #TransIsBeautiful? See what happens when trans people of all ages come together.

September 27, 2016

NICOA’s 40th Anniversary and the Resilience of AI/AN Elders


In September, the National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. (NICOA) held its biennial conference in celebration of its 40th anniversary. At the conference, SAGE’s Michael Adams touched on various aspects of aging, including policies that impact the lives of LGBT AI/AN elders. DEC's Jenna McDavid reports. Image: Cynthia LaCounte (ACL) and Michael Adams.

September 23, 2016

SAGE and ASA Co-Host #LGBTGenerations Panel


When the American Society on Aging (ASA) decided to focus the Summer 2016 issue of Generations on LGBT aging, it marked a milestone in the march toward visibility and respect for LGBT elders.

On September 21, SAGE CEO Michael Adams joined other authors in the issue for a special panel discussion co-hosted by SAGE and ASA in New York. Adams' article "An Intersectional Approach to Services and Care for LGBT Elders" considers the unique strengths and challenges of LGBT elders.

Connect with Michael Adams on Twitter and see the event recap on Storify to learn more about why he believes practitioners and policymakers must bring an intersectional analysis to their work. Do you have thoughts on the subject? Join the conversation on social media with #LGBTGenerations!

September 20, 2016

Did you know? The Feds Just Outlawed LGBT Credit Discrimination



This past June, SAGE asked the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) whether it “views credit discrimination on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation … as forms of sex discrimination prohibited under the ECOA.” In August, we heard back and the answer (in many words) was "yes."

According to the CFPB, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) outlaws “credit discrimination on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation."   This guidance effectively bars lenders across the country from discriminating against LGBT individuals when they need credit -- whether to buy a house, apply for a credit card, obtain a car loan and any other circumstance relating to credit.  In its letter to SAGE, the CFPB urges people to report “any situations in which creditors treat applicants less favorably” because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. You can easily file a complaint on the CFPB's website.

This monumental letter is extremely important to LGBT older people. As SAGE CEO Michael Adams stated in a recent Slate article: “LGBT older people face higher poverty rates than their non-LGBT peers, while facing disproportionate rates of social isolation. This means that they don’t always have a support network in place when facing challenges related to finances. The CFPB’s clarification with respect to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act moves the ball forward in ensuring that LGBT older people have access to credit on an equal playing field.”

We couldn't agree more. In case you're interested, you can read the CFPB's letter to SAGE here.

SAGE Launches LGBT Age-Friendly Housing Website

Home isn't just where we live — home is our safe place. That's why SAGE has created a first-of-its-kind housing website that empowers LGBT elders to find a welcoming place to call home. We know that housing discrimination is on the rise, and dependable resources are needed more than ever. Now, you can access housing policies and protections, and find out where LGBT age-friendly communities are being built via SAGE's new interactive map and resources.

Be sure to sign up for updates as we share new stories and resources over the coming months, and follow on social media with #SAGEHousing.

September 18, 2016

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day 2016

In March, SAGE commemorated National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and for HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day in June, we paid tribute to our LGBT elders living with HIV. Today, we commemorate National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day to recognize the profound effect that HIV/AIDS has on all ages, including LGBT elders.

Currently, more than half of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 50. By the year 2020, more than 70% of Americans living with HIV will be age 50 or older, and 18% of new HIV diagnoses occur among people over 50. While HIV has become more like managing a chronic disease, many long-term survivors are facing new crises that affect their physical, mental and financial well-being. It’s important that we recognize and appreciate the trials and triumphs of our brothers and sisters living with HIV.

The Diverse Elders Coalition has a number of resources available about HIV and aging, including the infographic, "Facts and Factors: Diverse Elders and HIV." This year’s theme for HIV Long-Term Survivors Day was "Moving Forward Together." Let’s take this unifying message to heart as we celebrate the lives of those we have lost, and those who live and continue to inspire us today.