September 16, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Our Mother

SAGE CEO Michael Adams’s poignant and empowering message delivered at LGBTQ icon Edie Windsor’s memorial service in New York City on September 15, 2017. You can view a video of the memorial service here. The service starts at the 30 minute mark.

 

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Edie and my mom at the 2016 SAGE Awards

Since I learned the news of Edie’s passing on Tuesday, I’ve been carrying around a beautiful picture of Edie and my mom, taken at last year’s SAGE Awards gala. I’ve pondered why, of all the many pictures I have of Edie, it’s that photo that I’ve been clinging to these past few days. Then it came to me: in so many ways, Edie was our mother.

Like mothers do, she made every one of her children feel that they were the apple of her eye. I know, because she made ME feel that way. Always. I’m not one to dwell on whatever I manage to get right; I’m too busy figuring out what I got wrong and how to fix it. But when Edie told me she was proud of me, that meant EVERYTHING to me, as if my own mother had told me. Because in a powerful way that I can’t quite explain, Edie mothered me. My amazing Mom who is in that picture with Edie raised me up as a child to be the person I am, for better and for worse. But it was Edie who raised me to do my best for our beloved LGBTQ community. She taught me so much. She inspired me. She made me smile and made my heart beat on the toughest of days.

This is my personal story about Edie. But it’s also our LGBTQ community’s story, because Edie loved and mothered all of us. Edie once said: “I’ve been having a love affair with the gay community.”  And we all felt her love. Edie was family at SAGE. She served on our Board of Directors for many years, she was a guiding light for the bold community education group Old Queers Acting Up. She was a regular at the SAGE Center. But she had so much love to spread around. She loved my sister LGBT leaders Glennda Testone and Wendy Stark and so many more. She loved The Center and Callen-Lorde and so many of our community organizations. 

Edie gave us her fearless leadership in New York City, across the U.S., and indeed across the world. Her impact was so huge, so widespread. And yet it was so personal, so much about each of us, because she was always on the move, always beside us, always rooted in our community. Whether she was serving as assistant stage manager for Taking Liberties, an amazing lesbian musical supporting Astraea [Lesbian Foundation for Justice], the [National Gay and Lesbian] Task Force, and the [Lesbian Herstory] Archives. Or when she attended the very first conference of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Or when she was a marriage equality ambassador for the Empire State Pride Agenda. The list of Edie’s activist efforts goes on for pages.

In addition to being our mother and our community leader, Edie was our sage. She wasn’t just any fighter for equality and justice. When she teamed up with Robbie Kaplan and the ACLU, Edie was an 83-year-old FIERCE and proud lesbian who brought the Supreme Court to its knees in support of our love, our humanity, and our equality. Our elders at SAGE, who are Edie’s contemporaries and many of whom are watching the live stream of this service at the SAGE Center, beamed with pride that glorious day at the Supreme Court because it was ONE OF THEM, a fellow elder, THEIR FRIEND EDIE, who knocked down the walls of bigotry and equality with such grace, wisdom, and fortitude. And then, when Edie met her beloved Judith and fell madly in love, she was again our sage, reminding us that passion and romance can sizzle to life at any age.

Like any good mom, Edie could be stern with her mothering when she needed to be. I still laugh when I remember the rally at Stonewall after the Obergefell victory, which finished the marriage equality work that Edie started at the Supreme Court. There were many speakers at that rally, and in our excitement, many of us weren’t so brief. I had offered to accompany Edie because the stage was very high and narrow, without much room for error, and at the time Edie was on some medication that was affecting her balance. After a number of speakers had gone on at some length, Edie leaned over to me and said: “I’ve been standing here forever, I’m tired, and I need to get off my feet.  So get me on that stage next, or I’m going home.” So that’s what we did. I was afraid that Edie might fall off the back of the little stage as she was speaking, so I put my arm around her and held her up a little bit. It was the only time I ever did that. The rest of the time – over the many years I’ve known Edie – it was her love and inspiration and example that held me up. Edie’s spirit holds and warms me as I stand here now. I know she’s holding up each of us right now. 

So thank you, Edie. Thank you for leading us. Thank you for mothering us. Thank you for being our sage. Thank you for your love affair with our community, and for loving each of us.  Thank you to you and Judith for showing us the beautiful bloom of love late in life. We love you more than words could ever express.

-- Michael Adams, SAGE CEO

September 14, 2017

SAGE Takes Loving, Caring Activism to the Streets at Pride Celebrations Across the Country

SAGE motivated tens of thousands of LGBT people across generations to step out at Pride celebrations nationwide. It was a summer of firsts: In New York City, SAGE partnered with Airbnb to bring a trans elder to his very first Pride. While in Talkeetna, Alaska, a town of 900 residents 100 miles north of Anchorage, 300 members of the LGBT community participated in its inaugural Pride event. Varied in theme and locale, Pride gatherings from St. Louis and Tulsa to Albuquerque and Chicago, all had one thing in common. SAGE was there in force with the unified message of “We Refuse To Be Invisible!”

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SAGE Milwaukee

 

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SAGE Milwaukee


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SAGE New York

 

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SAGE Center on Halsted, Chicago

 

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SAGE of the Desert, Palm Springs

 

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SAGE Tampa Bay

 

Theo Hutchinson and David Russell at Pride
At right, Theo Hutchinson, Airbnb winner, with David Russell at NYC Pride

 

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SAGE Alaska
June 5, 2017

Now Available: SAGE Health Storylines Self-Care App

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The SAGE Health Storylines self-care app makes it easy for older adults living with HIV and AIDS—and their caregivers—to track their health. A variety of tools, including a medication tracker, a mood tracker, and a symptom tracker, allow you to build your health story. The My Storylines feature allows you to learn more about your health, and to share more—safely and securely—with your doctor about what happened between visits.

App ImageThis app was designed in partnership with SAGE and Self Care Catalysts and is powered by the Health Storylines™ platform from Self Care Catalysts Inc.

You can customize your app with several self-care tools such as:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Symptom Tracker
  • Daily Mood Tracker and Journal
  • Vitals Tracker (Weight, Blood Pressure, etc.)
  • Ability to sync with wearable devices (e.g. Fitbit)

By using SAGE Health Storylines, you have the opportunity to anonymously contribute learning from your story to a vital data resource that helps researchers improve care in the future for people like you.

Need help getting started? Send an email to support@healthstorylines.com.

The FREE app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also use the web version on your desktop computer by clicking here.

DOWNLOAD IT NOW

SAGE App on Apple AppStore SAGE App on Google Play

 

May 31, 2017

LGBT Elders Tell Washington: We Refuse to Be Invisible 

InvisibleHomepageBy sending more than 9,000 letters to Washington, people across the country raised their voices with SAGE and many other organizations, LGBT and allies alike, to tell the Trump administration that we refuse to be invisible

Given the erasure of LGBT issues from White House and federal agency websites within hours of Donald Trump’s inauguration, we at SAGE were alarmed but not surprised when we learned of the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate LGBT elders from an annual federal aging survey, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAPP), which is overseen by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This crucial survey helps determine how $2 billion in publicly funded elder services gets distributed. 

With the new regime in Washington seemingly determined to wipe out the progress toward LGBT inclusion in federal aging policies and programs, we at SAGE quickly realized that our LGBT elders and their advocates were in for a big fight. SAGE responded against this outrageous elimination with the #WeRefuseToBeInvisible campaign, a grassroots effort to mobilize a strong response during the Public Comment period that the administration is legally required to undertake before making major changes—such as erasing an entire population—to an important federal program. The Public Comment period for the survey exclusion ended on May 12, and thanks to an outpouring outrage against this erasure, Washington heard our unified message: We refuse to be invisible! 

On April 27, a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. Senators led by Senator Susan Collins, Republican chair of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, publicly demanded a reversal of the Trump administration’s plans to erase LGBT elders. Then, on the last day of Public Comment, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus sent a bipartisan letter from 50 members of the House of Representatives to Tom Price, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. The letter admonished the ACL, the division of HHS that oversees the survey, for its the erasure of LGBT adults and demanded that it reinstate the LGBT demographic question. 

Now we await a final decision from the Trump administration on LGBT inclusion in the elder services survey. But while we wait, we will not back down in our opposition to the erasure of our older LGBT community, because unfortunately, there is every indication that more battles are looming on the horizon. 

Through all of these battles and those to come, SAGE will continue to stand with and for our LGBT elder pioneers. We will not back down. We refuse to be invisible.

Interested in getting our alerts to take action? Sign up below!

Pride Month Is Here

YOU ARE SIMPLY THEIn case you've been hiding under a rock, June is Pride Month, and everyone at SAGE is excited to celebrate! Starting this weekend, the calendar is jam-packed with events around New York City to show the strength of our community and the depth of our passion. 

As we let loose, though, we are aware more than ever of the tenuous state of affairs in our government. Our response can only be one of action. We will never give up, and we will never stop fighting for our rights. This Pride month, we refuse to be invisible! 

To that end, join SAGE in participating at one of these events planned throughout June: 

May 12, 2017

Remember: We Refuse To Be Invisible!

May 1, 2017

SAGE & Global Volunteers: Doing Good Around the World

GlobalVolunteersLogoBE THE CHANGE IN THE WORLD. BE A GLOBAL VOLUNTEER.

SAGE and Global Volunteers partner to bring you exclusive LGBT teams to Cuba and Vietnam!

Join us on a volunteer service program that crosses the generational divide with LGBT volunteers of all ages. Opportunities in Cuba and Vietnam currently available (see below). Be sure to check out more information about Global Volunteers here and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Engage the world in ways you’ve never imagined. As a Global Volunteer, your skills and energy can make all the difference to children and families in need. Friendly and accepting communities welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people to work alongside local people on significant development projects. Volunteer independently on any of our standard teams in 17 countries, or arrange an LGBT service team for your school, youth, arts or professional group in these fascinating and open-minded cultures:


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Teach English, paint and plant. Learn from farmers, students, artists and community leaders -- and share your own experience of daily American life.

Register Now >>

Register for the 2018 Team >>

 

 

 

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Work with students of all ages as well as blind career-seekers to provide a passport out of poverty: English language skills. Explore Hanoi and leave a legacy of meaningful service. Meet local LGBT community members and allies during your free time!

Register Now >>

Register for the 2018 Team >>

April 14, 2017

Meet Kelly Kent, SAGE's National Housing Initiative Director

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Kelly Kent brings almost two decades of experience to his role as director of SAGE’s National Housing Initiative, a new one at the organization. Kent, who divides his time between his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and SAGE’s New York City offices, talks about his rich background, what brought him back the Midwest, and the critical need for institutions like Citi that are helping establish models for older LGBT housing communities across the country.

SAGE: How did you end up in Kansas City?
Kelly Kent: I returned to Kansas City a few years ago after being gone for more than 16 years. Since my parents were dealing with so many health issues associated with aging, it was important for me to be accessible to them at this time in their lives. Witnessing their experiences also has helped shape my professional life in the way that it intersects health and housing for aging adults.

You have a long career as an advocate for affordable, fair housing for vulnerable populations. How did you become involved in this area?
My work in affordable and fair housing for vulnerable populations has spanned almost 20 years. I first realized my passion for this work when I volunteered as a buddy at an AIDS housing project in 1995 when I was an undergrad at the University of Kansas. At the time, HIV/AIDS housing was often more assisted living or a hospice. I saw firsthand how affordable housing is a basic foundation in a tenant’s overall healthcare engagement. That experience helped solidify my dedication to that work. I was always interested in social justice and even concentrated much of my undergraduate studies on African-American studies.

Based on those first experiences, I became even more determined to complete my master’s degree in urban planning with an emphasis on housing policy and real estate finance. I interned for the Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., and then the rest evolved as my professional education evolved. The passion remained over the course of time. Ensuring vulnerable populations have access to safe, stable housing makes a difference in their lives.

What drew you to SAGE?
Given my background, I have always had an affinity for working within the LGBT community. Once I moved back to Kansas City and experienced my own parents’ engagement with the healthcare system, I became motivated to begin coursework in gerontology to better understand the service needs of our rapidly growing older adult population. This led me to developing and overseeing a local public-private demonstration with a local hospital system, local governments, nonprofits, and corporate partners around the concept of aging in place. This was coupled with care coordination for seniors experiencing high rates of readmission to local Kansas City hospitals. I am convinced this is an issue the majority of communities have yet to effectively engage.

I met some of the SAGE staff at the American Society of Aging conference several years and told them about my interest in housing-related work for this population. When SAGE decided to increase its efforts in providing affordable housing for older LGBT adults late last year, I received a call from them.

How does Citi’s involvement further the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative?
Citi’s support as a funder in the community-development space is well known. As a leading provider in affordable housing finance, Citi recognizes that providing and developing affordable housing options helps revitalize neighborhoods and build inclusive cities. I feel fortunate to be working with SAGE and Citi on establishing replicable models for communities.

We could all use a little good news these days. Do you see any bright spots on the horizon for providing affordable LGBT housing for older people?<
It is a challenging time, and even more so for the constituents we serve. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the shortage of affordable LGBT housing and it reignites my desire to redouble our efforts. I believe there are positive things to point to related to our work. The broader community-development industry has refined a vast amount of evidence-based best practices over the past 25 years in providing housing and services to more vulnerable populations. There is a roadmap on how to engage in this work. It has been proven to be effective. My job is to couple those learnings with expansion activities to educate non-housing providers around its efficacy and help them replicate versions of these models specific to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

I also believe in my heart that we are making great strides as a nation around increased cultural competency with the help of programs like SAGECare. My hope is that the groundwork we are laying now won’t be necessary for my niece and nephew’s generation because we will be at a place where differences like gender identity and sexual orientation will no longer be so divisive. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful.

How does being based in Kansas City give you a unique perspective on affordable older LGBT housing?
I have been fortunate in splitting my time between Kansas City and SAGE’s New York City office, although I’ve always worked for organizations that required me to travel extensively all over the country. One aspect that I’ve seen reinforced here is that human beings, in this case LGBT individuals, are the same wherever you go. The fundamental needs we share far outweigh our geographic differences. Those basic needs include connection, community, a safe and welcoming environment to live in, and access to support services—when needed—to provide housing stability.

Housing discrimination is not specific to New York City or other major urban areas. In fact, I would offer that it is probably just as or more pervasive outside of the urban centers and coastal cities, and there are fewer services that are LGBT-specific at their disposal. For example, it’s estimated that there are more than 22,000 LGBT individuals living in Kansas City. So the work SAGE and other organizations take on—such as cultural competency or LGBT-friendly developments—in cities like New York City or San Francisco can provide fundamental lessons so we can better replicate similar interventions for our brothers and sisters in smaller communities in all areas of the country.

March 28, 2017

Thanks to all who helped defeat Trump's so-called healthcare bill!

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Dear Friends,
 

Two weeks ago, SAGE asked you to tell Congress to oppose the so-called American Health Care Act. You spoke up - loudly and clearly. Thanks to you, and to thousands of other outraged Americans, we stopped this dangerous legislation in its tracks.   

Last Friday, we were victorious. But there is so much work ahead.
 
Just last week we learned that the federal government's leading survey about publicly funded elder services - the National Survey of Older Americans Acts Participants - has completely eliminated questions that allowed people to identify as LGBT. SAGE fought for years for LGBT older people to be included in this vital survey that informs $2 billion in spending on critical elder services.
 
We only have until May 12 to tell the administration, that "we refuse to be invisible!"  Click here to make your voice heard, and tell the Trump administration that LGBT elders count.
 
Thank you for your activism!
 
Michael Adams, CEO
 
Invisible
March 20, 2017

The Trump Administration is Erasing LGBT Elders

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Dear Friends,

It's highly unusual for me to send you two messages in two weeks asking you to stand up and advocate for LGBT elders. But these are highly unusual times. We must be prepared to step up to the plate as often as necessary, whether it's denouncing a plan that would rob millions of older Americans of health insurance, or fighting efforts to make LGBT elders invisible in federally-funded senior services.

Just how effective are those services at supporting LGBT elders? Apparently, the Trump Administration doesn't want to know the answer, or even want to acknowledge that LGBT elders exist. In fact, they're proposing to completely erase LGBT elders from the federal government's annual national survey about elder services.

Our community fought for years to get our elders included in this critically important survey, which helps the government decide how to spend billions of dollars on senior services. And now, with one wave of their wand, the new Administration wants to make our elders disappear from the survey, despite the fact that they have been subjected to discrimination their entire lives and still face discrimination today. 

If there's one thing I know in my heart, it's that we must be a community that cares about our elders. We refuse to allow them to be cast aside. We refuse to be made invisible by the Trump Administration or anybody else.

Today, caring means fighting back. Fortunately, the law gives the American people the right to weigh in before the federal government takes a drastic step like erasing an entire community of elders. It's called a "public comment period." If you care about our LGBT elders, now is the time to act. Step up. Make your voices heard. Submit a comment. Say "NO" to the erasure of LGBT elders by the Trump Administration!

Tell Trump that we refuse to be invisible.

Invisible

In solidarity,

MichaelAdams

 



Michael Adams, CEO