July 13, 2016

SAGE and Partners Launching LGBT Elder Housing in NYC

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post Blog on July 11, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Michael Adams

5783cfdd1a00002400dd0aa2Crotona (left) and Ingersoll (right) Senior Residences

Recently, SAGE closed out New York City’s Pride month with the historic announcement that, after many years of effort, we have sealed deals for the Big Apple’s first two LGBT-friendly senior housing developments.  The news, which culminates decades of effort by LGBT elder advocates, was rolled out at a June 30 press conference where SAGE was joined by our partner developers, elected officials and a passionate crowd of elders from Brooklyn and the Bronx, where the two new housing communities will be built.     

The two newly-announced LGBT-welcoming housing developments – Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn and Crotona Senior Residences in the Bronx ― are a first for New York City.  But they build on similar affordable LGBT elder housing models in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Minneapolis. In each of these projects (and others in development across the country), LGBT communities and our allies are responding to the fact that LGBT older people often face unique challenges in finding welcoming and affordable housing. A 2014 report by the Equal Rights Center, with support from SAGE, found that 48% of LGBT older people applying for senior housing as part of a national test were subjected to discrimination.   This high level of discrimination is outrageous and unacceptable; moreover, it makes it extremely difficult for LGBT older people to find appropriate housing as they age.  

As SAGE pointed out when we rolled out our National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative last year, we can’t just build our way out of this crisis.  Because we will never be able to build enough developments like Ingersoll and Crotona, SAGE is also focused on policy reform and training to ensure that every senior housing community in the country is LGBT-friendly.  Nonetheless, building model LGBT-friendly senior housing can play an important role.  Collectively, the two new housing developments will provide 227 affordable apartments and will offer comprehensive, LGBT-culturally competent services to building residents and elders in the surrounding community.

5783d1ba1b00001a00f6d3a6I stand with NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres and SAGE participants as we announce the new NYC housing developments. Image courtesy NYCHA.

Located in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, the 145-unit Ingersoll Senior Residences will be the nation’s largest LGBT-welcoming elder housing community to date. Ingersoll is a collaboration of SAGE and BFC Partners, one of New York City’s leading affordable housing developers. BFC, which has developed affordable and market-rate housing in New York City for more than 30 years, will own and manage the property; SAGE is working with BFC on designing an LGBT-friendly environment and will operate a full-fledged LGBT-welcoming senior center on the ground floor.

Crotona Senior Residences is a collaboration of SAGE and HELP USA, a national leader in developing housing and services for vulnerable populations.  The 82-unit Crotona development, which will be jointly owned by HELP USA and SAGE, will feature a unique array of services and opportunities for residents, including roof-top gardening.  The new development is located directly across the street from Crotona Park, a beautiful 127 acre public park that is a vibrant local gathering spot and is known for its multi-faceted senior programming.   

Onsite SAGE Centers at both locations will be modeled after SAGE’s highly successful Innovative Senior Centers located in Chelsea, Harlem, the Bronx, Staten Island (in partnership with the Pride Center of Staten Island), and Brooklyn (in partnership with GRIOT Circle). The SAGE Centers at Ingersoll and Crotona will feature a cyber-café, hot meals program, and a weekly calendar of arts & culture and health & wellness activities that reflect the interests of building residents and community members. 

The Ingersoll and Crotona Senior Residences are being built at a time of growing recognition that the acute housing needs of LGBT elders must be addressed.  In his Pride Month Proclamation last month, President Obama declared that “my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans.”  In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-Year Housing Plan specifically calls on developers to work with service providers to build LGBT-friendly senior housing.

The Ingersoll and Crotona developments are reflective of SAGE’s broader commitment to advance our work on behalf of LGBT elders through intersectional strategies that recognize that social justice problems are interconnected and that build solutions by connecting the dots.  Thus, we are excited that Ingersoll and Crotona isn’t just providing LGBT-friendly elder housing, but also is intentionally integrated into efforts to address New York City’s larger affordable housing crisis.  The Ingersoll and Crotona residences are part and parcel of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious initiative to create and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units.  The Ingersoll development is making an additional contribution – proceeds from the project will be used to upgrade existing public housing managed by the New York City Housing Authority.

Projects like these – which simultaneously address the acute housing needs of LGBT older people while helping to advance equity for all city residents struggling to find decent housing – can only come about through strong community partnerships.  As New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye has pointed out, “The partnership between the City, BFC, and SAGE to expand affordable housing opportunities and services at Ingersoll is a powerful example of how we’re creating more connected communities through NextGeneration NYCHA.” In a similar vein, GRIOT Circle Executive Director Jose Albino has declared that “[w]e stand shoulder to shoulder with [SAGE] in ensuring that these groundbreaking LGBTQ affirmative housing opportunities are inclusive and representative of the individuals who live in the communities where they will be located.”

At a time when the social ills plaguing our country are so vividly on display, local community change and development efforts like Ingersoll and Crotona – through their emphasis on collaboration, connected communities, and cross-cutting strategies – offer powerful rays of hope for social progress.  Recognizing that our LGBT elder pioneers have paved the way for so much progress toward justice and equality in recent decades, it seems only appropriate that pioneering LGBT-friendly senior housing might offer some lessons on how to re-connect the dots.

Note: If you’re interested in learning more about these developments and SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, we invite you to subscribe for regular updates at sageusa.org/nychousing.

July 7, 2016

Why We Fight

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters.

The Supreme Court validated the relationships of LGBT people across the nation in 2015 when it handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Plaintiff Jim Obergefell took the time to speak with us about his experience in this history-making moment.

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Image: Emma Parker Photography


SAGE: How did you feel at the moment the Supreme Court decision came down? Can you describe it?

Jim Obergefell: When Justice Kennedy read our case number, I grabbed the hands of friends sitting on either side of me and listened intently. The first few sentences were a roller coaster of emotions, as I thought “we won”—followed closely by doubt. When it became clear that we had indeed won, I burst into tears and cried throughout the rest of his decision. I felt a mixture of sadness, joy, and satisfaction. Sadness, of course, because John wasn’t there to experience the win with me. It was impossible not to feel joy at that moment! Here was the highest court in the land saying that John and I—and couples like us—exist and are just as valid as any other couple. I also had a sense of satisfaction because I’d lived up to my promises to love, honor and protect John. It was a bittersweet day, but definitely more sweet than bitter.

SAGE: Caring for a terminally-ill partner requires profound physical and emotional strength. You’ve said that John gave you “the strength to do this.” How did family, friends and community reinforce that strength?

JO: I know I had moments when I was completely exhausted, emotionally and physically, but I always thought back to John and the fact that I was fighting for him, our marriage, and people across the country. I found that no matter how busy I was, I was energized by meeting people, talking about John, and speaking out for equality. My family and friends worried about me, but they understood how important it was, and they could also see how passionate I was about what I was doing. They also kept me grounded and sane by checking in with me and, more importantly, making time for me whenever I was home in Cincinnati. It’s impossible not to be energized when strangers stop me to say thank you, tell me stories, or share why my fight mattered to them.

SAGE: In winning a battle for you and John, you won something for all of us. Have you met any older—“SAGE age”—couples who’ve tied the knot since this summer’s Supreme Court victory? How have they inspired you?

JO: I have, and quite a few! I remember how frequently people were surprised by how long John and I were together, so I’ve loved meeting couples who have been together as long or longer. There’s been such a look of joy and contentment on their faces, and I can’t imagine a better thank you. I know how meaningful getting married was for John and me after twenty years together, so I understand a bit of how they feel. Every time a couple tells me they’ve finally married after being together for so long—or that their marriage is now recognized in all 50 states—I’m humbled to be part of that.

SAGE: In remarks following the decision, you shared your hope that the ruling would decrease LGBT stigma and discrimination. You also acknowledged the crisis in Charleston, saying we must continue to fight as “progress for some is not progress for all.” What issues do you hope to address in the coming year?

JO: Our country still hasn’t lived up to the promise of equality that’s part of our shared American identity, and my experience fighting for marriage equality has inspired me to continue being involved until we do. I’ll be working toward passage of the Equality Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity in federal non-discrimination protections. I’ll continue to speak out on behalf of our transgender brothers and sisters and lend my time and energy toward gaining much-needed protections for them. I also plan to become more involved with fighting homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Read about Jim Obergefell and other LGBT trailblazers in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters. Download our Talk Before You Walk toolkit and infographics to learn how marriage equality affects your finances. Sign up for monthly email updates at sageusa.org/subscribe.

July 1, 2016

What Affordable/Accessible Housing Options Exist for Diverse Elders?

Did you miss SAGE's June 30 Housing Press Conference? Watch the Facebook Live Stream recording and see photos from the event on Flickr.

This post originally appeared on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on June 1, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Angie Boddie

America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth. As the baby boomer generation continues to experience increased longevity, the 50 and over population is projected to increase about 20 percent by 2030 or to about 132 million people. In just 15 years, one in five people will be at least age 65. Ensuring that this demographic continues to experience affordable and accessible housing that offers a sense of community as well as other services and supports that enables them to remain active and productive members of society has taken on a new urgency not only for individuals and their families, but also for the nation as a whole.

For some people, staying in their current homes works. For others, there may come a time when everyone agrees that a different housing option is needed. For those individuals living with chronic conditions and/or disabilities, the availability of housing with supports and services they need determines the quality and cost of long-term care—particularly the portion paid with public funds. Every day, seniors and their caregivers ask questions such as “What if mom or dad can’t go home?” or “What are my housing options?”

Thankfully, today society offers seniors a host of choices and options with regard to alternative housing.  Options include: Age-Restricted Communities; Active-Adult Communities; Senior Apartments; Cohousing; Home with Help (HWH); Assisted-Living Facilities (ALF); Continuing-Care Retirement Communities (CCRC); Board and Care Homes; and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF).

  • Age-Restricted Communities. Age-Restricted Communities also known as “active adult” or “[age] 55+” communities cater to older adults who have a common preference to live among their peers. Age-Restricted Communities usually offer a mix of this housing type—single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments that are often connected by sidewalks or paths. Age Restricted Communities tend to focus on an active lifestyle, and many communities have well-equipped clubhouses and other amenities, such as tennis courts, gardening, and other community-based activities.
  • Active-Adult Communities. Active-Adult Communities tend to be more suitable for older adults who are healthy, independent, and interested in the social benefits of living among peers. It should be noted that many age-restricted communities don’t allow multigenerational living arrangements, including children and grandchildren.
  • Senior Apartments. Senior Apartments are age-restricted apartments that are typically available to people age 55 and older. While senior apartments are luxury apartments with high price tags, a lot of senior apartments are priced at market rates or below. Some are even built specifically for low-income people. Because the units are constructed for older adults, they are often designed to be accessible and include transportation services. 
  • Cohousing. “Cohousing” designates “a type of ‘intentional neighborhood’ in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of the community.” Residents privately own their homes and do not pool their incomes, but there are common facilities for daily use. Decisions are made cooperatively, rather than by top-down hierarchy or majority-rules voting. Cohousing communities are vibrant places where there are many opportunities for multigenerational interactions and social connections. In elder or senior cohousing communities, the “intentional community” is only for older people. Homes and facilities are designed for aging in place, and residents often share the cost of health aides or an on-site health-care provider.
  • Home with Help (HWH). Home with Help assistance is available to an individual when it has been deemed that it is unsafe for that person to live at home alone.  HWH services are geared towards providing care in the home.  This may include individuals continuing to live in their home environment with 24 hour care.  It also may include in the form of family caregivers, private paid caregivers, transportation services, and meal options such as meals on wheels.  Hiring private caregivers is an out-of pocket expense; therefore one must consider the financial aspect associated with in-home care.
  • Assisted-Living Facility. Assisted-living facilities (ALFs) are housing communities for those individuals who may require minimal assistance with their activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, housekeeping, shopping, and medication management, but they want to live as independently as possible.  Residents living in this facility keep the sense of “home”, by having their own apartment.  Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted-living facilities, but in some states, Medicaid may assist with funding.  
  • Continuing-Care retirement Communities (CCRC). Continuing-Care Retirement Communities are a combination of an assisted-living facility that is connected with an independent living residence and a nursing.  Residents in this setting are able to take advantage of a variety of services, including meals, transportation, housekeeping, laundry, health monitoring, and social activities.  Another advantage about living in a CCRC is that residents will not have to relocate to a new community as their level of care may increase.  Fees often increase as services increase. A CCRC offers many different contract options including, extensive, modified, and fee-for-service. The contracts differ in the amount according to the services offered. To determine which option is best for your loved ones, visit the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission.
  • Board and Care Homes. Board and Care Homes are also known as a residential care facility or group home for older adults.  They are often very small and provide assistance with meals and basic Activities of Daily living (ADL’s).   A board and care home offers seniors a “home” atmosphere.  Often board and care homes are located in single-family homes.  Government funding as well as SSI can sometimes cover the costs of such facilities.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities. Skilled Nursing Facilities provide care to those who need 24 hour care after suffering from an illness, injury, or functional disability; some nursing homes offer specialty services geared towards specific medical conditions.  Nursing homes provide many skilled services including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and respiratory therapy.  Typically, individuals stay for a short period of time to receive services to increase independence to return home.  Skilled nursing facilities are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance carries.

Finding the appropriate senior housing can be a difficult and tedious process for everyone. Whenever possible, involving the whole family can help everyone maintain dignity and power of choice. For additional information on senior housing, visit:

The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc., Housing Management Corporation: www.ncbahmc.com

SeniorResource.com: http://www.seniorresource.com/house.htm

National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information: http://www.longtermcare.gov/LTC/main_Site/index.aspx

Housing and Urban Development: http://www.hud.gov/groups/seniors.cfm

AARP: http://www.aarp.org/families/housing_choices

Continuing Care Accreditation Commission: http://www.carf.org

Medicare: www.medicare.gov

Angie Boddie is the Director of Health Programs at theNational Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc. Angie joined NCBA in 2004. She directs all health promotions, advocacy and education programs for NCBA.

June 20, 2016

The Longest Day: An LGBT Older Adult and Caregiver Perspective for Living with Alzheimer ’s Disease

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Peggy Killian, VP Communications, Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter and the author, Sherrill Wayland

Annually the Alzheimer’s Association hosts Longest Day events on the summer solstice to raise awareness and understanding of the challenging journey faced by people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter, marked this Longest Day with a sunrise to sunset ride on the MetroLink train, interviewing people living with the disease, their caregivers, advocates and other professionals to raise awareness and understanding.

I woke up at 4 a.m. to make my way to the train station for a 5:30 a.m. Longest Day Ride and Interview to discuss supporting LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. As I walked through my still darkened house, I was met with silence as my wife and our dogs continued to sleep in the early morning hours. This quiet, darkness made me reflect on what can often be a lonely journey for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Who is there to hear their stories and support their journey?

The reflections from my early morning stayed with me during the hour long ride as we discussed how to best support LGBT older adults living with this disease. Following is a recap of the topics discussed and some steps that aging network providers can take to improve the supports for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers:

The Importance of Advance Planning – We often discuss the need for financial and legal planning. Planning becomes even more critical when someone receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease that will most likely progress to a point where the person is reliant on others to make decisions and provide care. Regardless of a person’s marital status, documents such as durable powers of attorney for finances and health, living wills, and wills assist the aging network in knowing what their wishes are and who should be the person making decisions on their behalf. As advocates and aging network providers, we can help ensure that the planning documents are in place early in the support process.

Telling Our Life Stories – As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it is often the long term memories that stay intact and shared by the person living with the disease. Creating a welcoming space for LGBT older adults to share their life experiences, loves, losses, fears, and significant relationships, including families of choice (close friends not related by blood or marriage), partner or spouse is critical in providing the best possible care and support. All too often, LGBT older adults do not seek supportive care from health and social services due to fear of and experiences with stigma and discrimination. By working to create welcoming spaces that honor a person’s life history, we can help people to share what is most important to them and may become an integral part of their future support and journey with this disease.

This life history can also be important during times of disaster and trauma, such as the recent mass shooting and deaths of 49 LGBT and allied community members in Orlando, FL. LGBT older adults have experienced a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, and many may have experienced violence such as that experienced during the Stonewall Riots and other events in their lives. Knowing their life story as an LGBT person will help aging network provide the support and understanding during a time of grief, crisis, or trauma.

It is also important to recognize that LGBT older adults and caregivers may first need to develop trust with your organization. LGBT older adults and caregivers may then feel comfortable and safe to share their stories. If at first a person doesn’t feel comfortable sharing, give them space, time and reassurance that your organization is a welcoming space.

Respecting Relationships – LGBT older adults often express feeling that their significant relationships and families of choice are not recognized or respected in the same way as a non-LGBT person’s significant other, family or spouse. Giving the same recognition and honor to LGBT older adult’s relationships and caregivers is important to help ensure that the support systems are in place to best meet the needs of an LGBT person living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

For organizations offering caregiving and grief support, it is essential that facilitators and volunteers can assist in creating the welcoming space where all relationships are respected and honored within the group setting.

Offering LGBT Cultural Competency Training – The Alzheimer’s Association has been a strong partner with SAGE over the years.  Several Alzheimer's Association Chapters have participated in SAGE's LGBT Cultural Competency training. They are among some of the first SAGECare Credentialed Organizations. Providing LGBT Older Adult Cultural Competency training is an essential step to supporting staff and volunteers in working with LGBT older adults and their caregivers. It also sends a large signal to the LGBT community that your organization is welcoming to LGBT older adults and caregivers.

As my interview ended and I walked from the platform back to my car, it struck me, “While I can get off this Longest Day Ride, the ride for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, is one that repeats itself day after day.”  Through continued education and awareness, we can create an aging network that values and supports the journey of LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Take time today, to visit the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and the vast array of resources available on Alzheimer's/Dementia, caregiving, legal and financial planning, and best practices for serving LGBT older adults.

Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.

June 15, 2016

LGBT Vigil Interfaith: Join Us, Lend Your Voice, Prayers

Last night, Suley Cruz, SAGE Center Harlem’s Site Manager, spoke at an InterFaith Prayer Vigil hosted by Integrity Harlem (LGBT Ministry) at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. Read her powerful words below.

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It’s hard to come up with the proper words to fully convey the hurt we all feel at this moment. It’s difficult to grasp that one individual could exact such violence on people simply out enjoying their lives.

I take comfort in knowing that I work for SAGE, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults. I take comfort in seeing the faces of our SAGE participants, seasoned Heroes of Pride, our elders who remain unafraid to live their best lives and walk in their truth, who have seen and overcome so much yet remind us there is still work to be done.
I take comfort in gatherings like this Inter-faith vigil tonight, where we embrace our differences and come together to continue the work of combating hatred and discrimination.

I take comfort in seeing the outpouring of love across the nation from varying communities. Reminding us that we are a diverse nation but we are all human. If one community is hurting we are ALL hurting.

We must remember that these actions were of one individual. We must not feed into the rhetoric that seeks to divide us. Our strength is in our unity and continued commitment to fight against injustice and bigotry.

We owe it to our brother’s and sister’s lost in Orlando, we owe it to the future generations, and we owe it our elders who have brought us this far.

-Suley Cruz, Site Manager, SAGE Center Harlem

June 14, 2016

Building Intergenerational LGBTQ AAPI Communities

This post originally appeared on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on May 25, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Vega Subramaniam

I find myself attending LGBTQ Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) events with less and less frequency over time. At one point, queer AAPI community events made up most of my calendar; now, hardly at all. Part of it is that other activities and responsibilities occupy my time, including family responsibilities. Part of it is that my tastes have changed – I am now much happier spending an evening with a few friends at home rather than going out. And speaking of going out: part of it is my lifestyle has changed. I was recently invited to an event that started at 10:00 p.m.! I mean, who does that?! Oh, right, I did, once upon a time.

And to be frank, part of it is that being the oldest person in the room over and over again takes a toll. I recently went on a search for my AAPI lesbian/bi/trans elders, and I (re)discovered how few of us there are, who are out and over 50. And over 60? Forget it. Like, count-on-two-hands few. Hardly what you could call critical mass.

At the same time, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people who are young, queer, and AAPI yearn for a connection to their elders and their histories, to know that others came before them and they’re not alone, and to learn from our experiences. Current leaders of LGBTQ AAPI groups are reassured to learn that the challenges and schisms they face now are the same ones we faced years and decades ago. OK, maybe reassured and also supremely frustrated.

So then I wonder where my compadres are. Well, they’re probably spending a quiet evening at home, or taking care of household and family responsibilities. Maybe sleeping. And circling back to those challenges and schisms I mentioned, probably as weary of the scene as I get sometimes.

There are inevitable constraints on what kinds of spaces naturally lend themselves to multigenerational participation (event start times, for example!). Our respective interests, frustrations, preoccupations are quite different from each other’s. Our cultural cues sometimes feel worlds apart.

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And as with any intergenerational space, opportunities to misunderstand and be misunderstood abound. We each feel that we know better, that we’re right, that the other should listen and learn from us. We each feel the pain and invisibility of ageism.

That said, it’s pretty clear that there’s a desire, on all sides, to have multigenerational spaces. We all light up when we spend quality time with people of different generations. There’s no question that multigenerational spaces support all of us – I’d even go so far as to say we need them for our survival as an LGBTQ AAPI community.

The International Longevity Centre-UK’s “Intergenerational Projects for the LGBT Community” toolkit outlines the many benefits of such spaces:

  • Provide a space where young people can talk to older people about common experiences (such as coming out).
  • Provide role models for younger LGBT people by meeting older people who are comfortable and confident in their identity and who are simultaneously successful in their working lives and personal relationships.
  • Provide a space where any negative generational perceptions can be challenged. Some younger participants in the projects reported that they held negative views of older LGBT people before the projects began. From the perspective of older LGBT people, the projects allow older LGBT people to learn about the diversity of sexual and gender identities that exist among younger LGBT people.
  • Help prevent and overcome a relatively high degree of loneliness and social isolation among older and younger LGBT people, by bringing them together.
  • Provide an alternative forum for debate and support for younger and older LGBT people to discuss their common needs as service users and the discrimination or barriers they may face in accessing services.
  • Provide a space where older people can interact socially with younger people and improve the confidence of older people in communicating with younger people, which may be of particular value given that service providers are likely to be of a younger generation.
  • Provide a useful way of bringing different identities across the LGBT spectrum together, where historically projects may have worked with one group in isolation.
  • Allow younger LGBT people to learn about LGBT history directly from older people, which can lead to a greater appreciation of the liberties currently often taken for granted, and also highlight the challenges that remain.
  • Provide a method for strengthening the visibility of the LGBT community in wider societal terms. Bringing older and younger people together to work on a community project can highlight the diversity, but also the cohesiveness of the LGBT community, to the wider community.
  • Help participants understand, construct, and share their experiences of identifying as LGBT.

We’re seeing more intentional work to create intergenerational spaces, in projects ranging from LGBTQ Allyship’s Conversations Across Generationsto UC San Diego’s Intergenerational Dialogue.

While it’s heartening to see more groups and communities working to build those spaces (and even a toolkit specifically for this!), few are geared toward the AAPI community. The API Equality-Northern California’s Dragon Fruit Project, an intergenerational oral history project, offers a wonderful place to share our stories, house our legacies, and learn from one another. We’ve also seen other efforts at local levels to offer multigenerational gatherings and learning opportunities.

 

I’d also promote intergenerational co-mentorship programs, ones that foster what Suzanne Pharr calls “the fundamental belief that we are all people of worth. Its methods are asking questions and listening intently and respectfully for the answers. Where it leads us is toward the sometimes illusive dream of equality and justice – which can contain all our best ideas without requiring an age i.d.” We all can use some retooling of our toolkits, like learning to ask questions and listen intently about how concepts of race and gender have changed over the years and how those changes affect our experiences as people who are L, G, B, T, and /or Q.

Ultimately, my hope is that as we do approach a critical mass of out LGBTQ AAPI seniors, we increasingly build intentional intergenerational spaces, until they’re so organically embedded that we no longer have to work at it or even think about it.

Watch and share the recent video of SAGE’s Transgenerational Theater Project, where trans people of all ages come together and create.

June 13, 2016

Supporting LGBT Older Adults During Grief and Loss Following Orlando Attack

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By Sherrill Wayland, MSW

As an LGBT community, we reflect on the tragic loss of life experienced at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vigils are now being held in communities large and small, providing the LGBT community, families and friends a safe space to grieve and remember. Yet, we know many LGBT older adults are isolated and often lack the support systems that they can turn to in times of need. As a community, now is especially important time to step up to support LGBT older adults during this difficult time.

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is asking all older adult service organizations to simply reach out and offer support.  In the coming days, take time to make a visit or a personal phone call to an LGBT older adult you support and let them know you are here to listen.. The tragic murders at the LGBT nightclub may bring about a sense of trauma and anxiety for LGBT older adults who know all too well the realities of violence and discrimination due to homophobia and transphobia. As a service provider, you may provide the only safe space an LGBT older adult can turn to for support..

If you’re not sure what say, simply tell them, "I am reaching out today to let you know that I am here to listen and support you if you need to talk."

Here are additional organizations that can assist in linking LGBT older adults to community services during this time of grieving and healing:

  • The Center – LGBT Center in Orlando offering A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446 and grief counseling in the coming weeks
  • We Stand With Orlando – for a listing of events, vigils and resources
  • SAGENet – for SAGE Affiliate Chapters with local resources
  • National Resource Center on LGBT Aging – for educational resources and links for LGBT welcoming services
  • CenterLink – for list of Community Centers across the Country, many will be providing grief support and counseling
  • GLBT National Hotline – providing free and confidential peer-peer support and resources
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization

Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.

#WeAreOrlando: Together We Are Stronger than Bigotry and Hate

Michael AdamsDear Friends,

I know that all of us have been struggling today to grapple with our outrage and our grief over the senseless and vicious attack on LGBT people and our friends at Pulse in Orlando. To know that an LGBT club was targeted for the latest and worst mass shooting in this gun-infested country is horrible beyond words.

To suspect that some will use this tragedy to advance their own agenda of hatred and bigotry is also cause for deep concern. It reminds us of the responsibility that we – as communities of people who are committed to justice and equity for all – have to one another.

At SAGE, our hearts go out to all who have suffered, and will suffer, as a result of the tragedy in Orlando. We stand strong with every community and every person who is committed to building a society that is far more just, equitable and safe than the one in which we currently live.

Our elders remind us that the attack on Pulse is only the latest, and the worst, attack on LGBT clubs. Prior attacks targeted, to name just a few, the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, where 32 lives were lost to arson in 1973; the Otherwise Lounge, a lesbian club in Atlanta that was bombed in 1997; the Backstreet Café in Roanoke, which was sprayed with gunfire in 2000, and Neighbors in Seattle, which was set ablaze in 2013.

These and many other acts of senseless violence have been perpetrated against our communities by attackers from many different backgrounds and traditions. Their only common denominator was hatred and bigotry. It is that hatred and bigotry – in any form and targeted against any community –  against which we once again stand strong.

In grief and struggle,

Michael Signature

Michael Adams


There is a 7 PM vigil tonight, Monday, June 13, at the Stonewall Inn in NYC.  Details are available on the SAGE Facebook page for those who would like to attend. Information on similar events being organized in communities all across the country can be found here. If you are attending or know of a vigil taking place in your local community, please share in the comments.

In light of the Orlando tragedy, SAGE and the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) released a joint statement that illustrates how all groups dedicated to peace and justice must come together against bigotry and violence: "Many constituents of SAGE are Latino and many constituents of NHCOA are LGBT. Our diversity is a source of strength, and must not be used to create division."

June 9, 2016

Celebrating LGBT Heroes of Pride

It’s the first full week of Pride Month 2016 and the LGBT community is off to an exciting start. On May 31st, President Obama proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month, calling upon the country to "eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people." SAGE is grateful for this special recognition of a longtime tradition that's brought the LGBT community together.

During Pride Month with celebrations nationwide, the LGBT community and its allies remember the historic Stonewall Riots that happened in New York City in 1969. This year is particularly special, as we mark the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell marriage decision.

Join SAGE as we recognize the Heroes of Pride — LGBT trailblazers who have fought long and hard to make a better life for all of us — and reaffirm our love for friends, family and each other. If you’re in the New York area, please join us for these upcoming Pride events, and visit our SAGENet Affiliate websites to find out how you can celebrate in a city near you.

Brooklyn Pride: Saturday, June 11
Harlem Pride: Saturday, June 25
Manhattan Pride: Sunday, June 26
Bronx Pride: Saturday, July 16

If you missed our booth at Queens Pride on June 5, here's a photo of SAGE staff spreading the love:

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Visit our Pride 2016! photo album on Facebook

Other important tributes in June:

On Saturday, June 4, to kick off the summer season, SAGE held its 24th Annual Celebration in the Pines, honoring Eric Sawyer, Linda Gottlieb, Marc Cote & Jay Henry. See photos on Facebook.

On Sunday, June 5, for HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day, we paid tribute on social to LGBT elders living with HIV. Today more than half of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 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. Follow the conversation and show your support on social media with #‎LongTermSurvivors.

On Friday, June 10, the Chicago-based National Board Members of SAGE will host its annual SAGE & Friends reception, where SAGE will honor U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus, for his advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights and his support of issues impacting older individuals. SAGE will also recognize Phyllis Johnson and Torlene "Toi" Williams for their pioneering Affinity Community Services' Trailblazers, and for their grassroots advocacy on behalf of LGBT older adults in Chicago.

Legend
'Legends' gather for the exhibition reception at Leslie-Lohman.

Also this month, SAGE is celebrating our LGBT elders of color with a series of powerful yet understated photographs of unsung Black LGBTQ 'legends,' now on display through August 12 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. Read more and see images from the project here.

In the words of President Obama:

This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth.  The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society.  They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment -- under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics.  This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.

Stay tuned this month for Pride 2016 updates and follow the SAGE blog as we celebrate LGBT Heroes Of Pride in June and beyond. Follow and share on social with hash tag #HeroesOfPride.

 

June 3, 2016

SAGE CEO Michael Adams Receives Burton Grebin Award for Innovation


Michael AdamsToday, SAGE CEO Michael Adams received The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation from the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (CCLC), for his personal commitment to the important issue of LGBT long term care.

The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation was established in 2010 following the passing of Dr. Burton Grebin, a leader and innovator in pediatric long term care. In his honor, CCLC established this aware to be given to an individual who has been innovative in the field of long term care, and who embodies the dedication that Grebin brought to the long term care field.

SAGE is committed to innovative solutions to help LGBT elders age successfully. In May, SAGE launched SAGECare, its new cultural competence training program for care providers nationwide. Through SAGECare, providers across the country are trained to offer cutting-edge senior care to LGBT clients.

With its comprehensive set of educational offerings and credentials, SAGECare has established a new set of benchmarks in LGBT elder care, and has trained 11,477 providers to date. For more information, visit sageusa.care.

From the award ceremony:

"We are proud as members of CCLC to care for some of the most vulnerable and diverse populations in New York and the nation. We recognize Mr. Adams today as we continue to work to improve as skilled and culturally competent providers of care for all who see long term care from our organizations."