18 posts categorized "CEO Notes"

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

 

March 10, 2017

Health of LGBT Elders is Under Attack

We at SAGE have grave concerns about the potential repeal of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and its replacement by the so-called American Health Care Act (AHCA). This dangerous legislation hurts those who can least afford it -- low and moderate income people in their 50s and 60s. The AHCA would eliminate most of the help currently provided to older people so they can afford health insurance and specifically lifts restrictions on charging older people more than what younger people pay.

The implications for LGBT elders are severe. LGBT older people are more likely than other older Americans to have serious health problems and more likely to be poor. That's especially true for older lesbians, transgender elders and LGBT elders of color. Simply put, the AHCA would endanger their health.

And that's not all. The AHCA also would weaken Medicare and put Medicaid (which many Americans need for long term care) at risk. The end result would be millions of older Americans -- including many LGBT elders -- with no health care at all. That's not what caring looks like.

At SAGE, we refuse to sit by silently in the face of this clear attack on older people, especially when so many of our LGBT elder pioneers would be so deeply hurt. We're a community that takes care of our own.

We must condemn and oppose the American Health Care Act. If you care about older members of our LGBT community, take a stand today. Click below to easily send a letter to your member of Congress.

Congress

January 19, 2017

LGBT Elders: Resilience and Inspiration

SAGEInaugurationDear Friends,

It is often said that one of the greatest measures of a society is how it treats and remembers its elders. SAGE’s commitment to an equitable world where LGBT elders are valued and have boundless opportunities is inspired by this time-honored maxim. The inauguration of our country’s 45th President is a critical moment to reiterate this message. 

Our values as a society must support and honor our elders both because their hard work and perseverance laid the foundation for all that we have today, and because we still very much need their wisdom and contributions. This is especially true for LGBT elders, whose courage in the face of danger and adversity paved the way for marked progress on LGBT equality in recent years. Our LGBT elder pioneers did not lead the movement birthed at Stonewall by being quiet and invisible. In the same vein, faced with dangerous threats on multiple fronts, LGBT elders and their advocate – SAGE – refuse to be silent and invisible now. 

We must ensure that our older generations have the support they need to age safely and with dignity and respect. Like older Americans in general, most LGBT elders rely on Social Security in order to have enough to live on during their retirement, and rely on Medicare and Medicaid for their health and long term care.  Just like other older Americans, LGBT elders rely on community services funded by the federal Older Americans Act. They rely on federal support for senior housing. They rely on the progress the federal government has encouraged through training of aging service providers and the establishment of anti-discrimination protections. These programs and protections are even more essential for elders who are LGBT, people of color and members of other diverse elder communities – all of whom are especially vulnerable due to the accumulated effects of lifetimes of discrimination and marginalization.

While our elders need and deserve our support, we need them just as much.  As we enter a threatening new era when our society’s fundamental values and commitments to each other are under attack, we need the wisdom and fortitude of our LGBT elders now more than ever. We will apply the lessons they learned through decades of hard work and struggle, using that knowledge to build a better future.  We need their creativity, their spirit, their resilience.

In the days, months and years ahead, SAGE will stand firm with our LGBT elders for a policy agenda that makes older Americans a national priority, and that ensures that LGBT elders and elders from all diverse communities are at the center of that priority. We will do everything in our power to advocate for such an agenda. We will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back progress. We will relentlessly pursue our commitment to equity for diverse elder communities.

We at SAGE are inspired and fortified by the wisdom of our elders who have lived through decades of witch hunts, brutality, criminalization, stigma, AIDS and so much more. Our elders remind us that through all of these unspeakably difficult challenges, we stood firm, spoke out, and pushed forward.  

Count on SAGE and our many supporters to continue that great tradition by standing with LGBT elders and honoring their unique voices and wisdom. This week you can find SAGE making sure LGBT elders’ voices are heard at the Women’s March in our nation’s capital, leading an elder activism institute at the national LGBT Creating Change conference in Philadelphia, and gearing up for a new initiative – SAGETable – that will connect LGBT people of every age all across the country.

Please, join us! Let’s be proud to be measured by how we treat and remember our elders.

Sincerely,

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Michael Adams

LGBT elders needing emotional support are invited to call the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline. SAGE established the hotline to make sure that LGBT elders have support no matter where they live. Provided in partnership with the GLBT National Help Center, calls are being taken at 888-234-SAGE (7243) on Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays.

December 30, 2016

Live Long and Prosper with George Takei

This post originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of SAGEMatters.

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Takei speaks at SAGE & Friends LA Reception in April 2016.

Q. SAGE believes that we have a responsibility to make diversity and inclusion a centerpiece of our purpose, our people and our work. You once said "diversity is one of the strengths of our society." What does that mean to you?

George Takei: In addition to strength, with diversity we become a more vibrant, engaging and humane society. The community we live in gains strength by the power of the endowments of its members, be they muscular, intellectual or innovative. We also become richer for the performing, creative and artistic talents of the people. We become more vibrant by the inclusion of people of different cultures, histories, faiths and experiences. And we become a more humane society by embracing all people in need. As we say on Star Trek, "infinite diversity in infinite combinations."

Q. How has playing a starship helmsman on television and steering public opinion in real life contributed to your career revival? Any tips for older workers out there?

Takei: In show business, there is the term "to be between engagements." I don’t like not being engaged. All my life, I have not only pursued an acting career but have also created my own 'engagements' when not gainfully employed as an actor, whether it be political activism, public service, writing or, having discovered a fascinating advance in technology, social media. I don’t understand this thing called "retirement." I think life is to be lived.

IMG_5766Q. This summer marked the one-year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling—what you called a "landmark day for all Americans." What do you think the next frontier is for the LGBT community?

Takei: It is the backlash to nationwide marriage equality. Just as the Voting Rights Bill, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson back in 1965, is still being resisted by those who are trying to place obstacles to access to the ballot box for minorities, the same kind of backlash is happening with nationwide marriage equality. The totally transparent cloak for this bigotry is the cry of "freedom of religion." And the battleground now is the bathroom, of all places! But, as in Indiana and Arkansas in 2015 and North Carolina and Mississippi now, ultimately we will have to rescind their hateful laws. The struggle continues.

Q. You came to Twitter and Facebook when you were 74 and you now have millions of followers. These platforms have allowed you to push for LGBT rights across the country. You were the public face of #BoycottIndiana after the state enacted a religious freedom law that allowed people to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. You also led another social media charge against a similar law considered in Arkansas. Do you think we are going to be fighting bills like this for the next few years?

Takei: As I said above, the struggle for access to the ballot box is still being fought more than a half century after the Voting Rights Act was signed. But I also keep in mind that Loving v. Virginia, which granted interracial marriage, was ruled in 1967. When Brad and I were married in 2008, we were barely conscious of the fact that our marriage was interracial as well as same-sex. Our marriage was less than a half-century after Loving v. Virginia. I remain an optimist.

Q. SAGE’s mission is to advance successful aging for our LGBT elders so that they can live a vibrant life. Physical health and humor are both important to you. What principles of successful aging would you say make the most difference?

Takei: There is no one magic formula. It is a combination of many qualities. Physical health and good humor are important parts. Keeping the mind and body engaged, which means exercising both regularly—ideally daily—is also essential. Eating well and in moderation is also key. An optimistic view of life is vital. I rejoice in each and every birthday. It was my grandmother’s favorite hobby. She amassed a handsome collection—104 of them. She was a cockeyed optimist. My number one tip is to find joy in each and every day. Every morning, sunny or cloudy or rainy or torrid, is a wonderful gift. Enjoy it.

Read the interview on page 16 in the Fall 2016 issue of SAGEMatters.

November 30, 2016

Transition Anxiety

This post originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of SAGEMatters, and was later published by The Huffington Post, here.

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From L-R: Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality, Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Carmen Vazquez, Coordinator, LGBT Health & Human Services Unit for the New York State Department of Heath’s AIDS Institute

As we come to the end Transgender Awareness Month, SAGE CEO Michael Adams shares an illuminating conversation he had early this fall with lesbian and transgender rights leaders about identity, inclusion and a movement in transition.

Michael Adams: Kate, in recent months, as more trans older people are getting involved in SAGE, we’ve had pushback from a small number of constituents who believe that transwomen should not take part in programs SAGE provides specifically for women and lesbians. In essence, they argue that transwomen haven’t had the same gender experiences as cisgender women, given their different life histories and relationships with patriarchy, and that including transwomen in this programming denies cisgender women the ability to share their experiences with others like them. As a long-time feminist and the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), what is your take on these arguments?

Kate Kendell: A dialogue about where there is allyship and commonality versus where there is difference is the place we should come from. All women, transgender or cisgender, approach any conversation in any space based on their own experiences. Rich women, whether cisgender or transgender, do not have the same experience around gender or patriarchy as poor women. Women of color do not have the same experience around misogyny, patriarchy and sexism as white women. It’s important that we do not have an oppression test, or some sort of code that you must conform to in order to be in a conversation as a woman. Approaching the conversation where women are open to accepting different perspectives is the way to overcome a sense of difference or alienation from each other. For example, some women of privilege may have blind spots, where they don’t understand the nuances of patriarchy. These blind spots exist for both cisgender and transgender women. In order for the space to feel open for all, there should be a cultural competency conversation about understanding how people come from different places.

Adams: Carmen, do these arguments surprise you? As a longtime activist and community intellectual, what’s your perspective?

Carmen Vazquez: It doesn’t surprise me at all. As a person who does not identify as transgender but is a gender-nonconforming person, I have been the target of individuals who have used my female masculinity as a counter to my feminism. I understand the places where some of these women come from. But I agree with Kate that a conversation about alliance and where we have commonality in terms of sexism in this society is much more useful than a conversation about differences. It’s really important that there be a way of understanding the place where these women live. I don’t know who they are or what level of privilege they come from, but there’s a conversation about gender that is very different from the conversation about the patriarchy 40 years ago. There is a desire to hang on to a perspective that isn’t looking at the reality of what our LGBT conversation and community is about in terms of gender.

We have to remember a time when “lesbian” wasn’t even a part of the lexicon. And we should remind our sisters of what it took to get to that place—the struggle with society to whom we were completely invisible. I certainly understand the necessity of bringing some intersectional analysis— also because I am a woman of color. We need to pay attention to what these women fear they will lose if they are in a place with transgender women.

Adams: Mara, SAGE’s organizational philosophy is that anybody who identifies as a woman is welcome in women’s programming, anybody who identifies as a lesbian is welcome in lesbian programming, and that we will not excludetrans people from any programming for which they otherwise qualify. NCTE is on the front lines of these kinds of conversations every day. Do we have it right, or is this approach and our thinking overly simplistic?

Mara Keisling: It’s easy to fall victim to a kind of transition anxiety—“transition” in the sense that society is changing. There is a new America emerging, and we’ve all been hesitant to say that because we’re afraid to face this transition anxiety. There are people who wouldn’t have been welcome in the world before who we want to make room for now. And that makes some people uncomfortable. Just when you think you’ve found your place in society, society changes again. And we’re seeing this now within the trans movement, and the trans communities (plural) where what it means to be trans is shifting constantly.

I don’t think your approach is too simplistic, unless you think it can be static. Because it feels like, at least for the foreseeable future, that nothing static will survive. Not only is society changing but the rules for how society changes are changing, and that’s exciting—when you can actually have a part in changing the rules. That’s where we can make some really big societal differences. Sometimes it’s hard as a marginalized person to be sensitive to other marginalized people, but we have a lot in common. No matter which group of us you separate out and look at specifically, that group is really not homogeneous at all. I think being as welcoming as possible will always be the right thing.

Adams: Kate and Carmen both noted this notion of the value of looking for the spaces of alliance and commonality for dialogue and discussion. I’m wondering, have any of you seen examples of similar situations that started in a fierce and oppositional place but ultimately became conversations that focus on alliance and commonality?

Vazquez: Part of the problem we have, and some- thing I think we are moving away from, is that ours has been an identity-based politics forever, not a politics framed by human rights. When things center on identity and people feel that their identity is somehow being trampled on or taken away, they get defensive. That needs to change. To give you an example of where I thought a successful transition was made is what used to be called the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. When we were in the process of rebranding in 1994, we focused on our core ideals, vision and values (which included inclusion). It became increasingly clear that we could not say that those were our core values unless we changed our name to be inclusive of an emerging community that needed an enormous amount of support and a space to claim as its own. We did eventually become the LGBT Community Services Center. That was an important process to go through.

We cannot underestimate the importance of shifting the conversation away from identity and towards what our vision is of an inclusive SAGE or an inclusive movement, and what role all of us play in creating that space for inclusion of transgender people. Not just a support group here and there but to have transgender people woven into the fabric of SAGE as an organization. Also, when we talk about SAGE, it’s an organization about people dealing with oppression on the basis of age. That is some- thing that’s common to all older women. A politics of gender and sexual rights is something SAGE should champion and be at the forefront of.

Keisling: What Carmen just said is so important. We have so many different kinds of oppression we have to battle right now. We should be trying to eliminate the oppression and not each other. That should always be the goal—to start thinking about the oppressions and not the identities.

Kendell: Also, sexism and misogyny exist so deeply for a queer-identified people. If we can make the world safe for a transgender woman of color in some small rural town, then lesbian, gay and bisexual people will be far better off. Recognizing the enemy of our liberation as the same enemy of transgender individuals puts us in a much better place now than we were when this conversation started.

Adams: Kate, you’ve been the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights since 1996. Currently at NCLR what are the trans projects that are front and center in your mind, and where do you hope to be in the near future?

Kendell: One question we always ask at NCLR is: who is being left behind? The second question is: what kind of country do we want to live in? Neither is particularly driven by identity. Although the first one is connected to identity to some degree, because in a nation that still has white supremacy at its core—and racism obviously still entrenched everywhere, and transphobia and homophobia—I think there is still a place for understanding that there will be individuals whose very identity makes them more of a target for oppression.

November 14, 2016

SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

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SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

As we share the latest SAGEMatters with you, we are living through a period of unprecedented change. Perhaps nothing reminds us of this more sharply than this year’s high-stakes elections, which have turned long-standing political and social assumptions on their heads.

This theme of change runs powerfully through the features in this issue of SAGEMatters. Inside, you’ll find George Takei’s take on personal evolution; learn how Jeffrey Erdman has taken the LA leather scene by storm in his 50s; and follow an inspiring conversation with Kate Kendell, Mara Keisling and Carmen Vazquez about the changing landscape of gender identity. You’ll also learn how the federal government (after a lot of pushing by SAGE) is moving to transform publicly-funded aging services to make them more LGBT-friendly. Join us in celebrating the realization of a decades-long dream for our communities in New York City, as SAGE announces the construction of the first two LGBTfriendly elder housing communities in the Big Apple. And so much more.

This time of great change and evolution sets the stage for the launch of SAGE’s new strategic plan. The overriding goal of the plan is to dramatically expand the impact of SAGE’s work so that LGBT people can grow older with boundless opportunities for growth and enrichment. We believe that we can achieve this transformative vision by tapping into our legacy of “taking care of our own,” by building ties across generations, by encouraging communities to become LGBT age-friendly and by convincing partners of all kinds to get involved. This issue of SAGEMatters includes a special feature on our new plan—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are.

For me, all of this has a special personal significance as I celebrate my 10th anniversary at the helm of this amazing organization. I’m so proud of the great progress that we have made together on behalf of our LGBT elder pioneers. And I’m tremendously passionate about the next chapter of SAGE’s work.

I know that as you read through this latest SAGEMatters it will be even clearer to you why SAGE’s efforts matter more than ever. Let’s keep working together so that all LGBT elders have the support they need to live lives of boundless opportunity.

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the biannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the expanded Fall 2016 issue here.

November 10, 2016

SAGE Stands Firm on Agenda for LGBT Elders in Wake of General Election

Dear Friends,

At SAGE we see the results of this week’s election through our commitment to building an equitable world where all LGBT elders are valued and have boundless opportunities. SAGE’s commitment is shaped by our core values, which include diversity, respect and compassion.

With a corrosive election season behind us, we now must put aside divisive rhetoric and exclusionary proposals that fly in the face of our values in favor of a national governing agenda that addresses the pain and inequities that so many Americans face. One that honors all elders, including those who are LGBT. One that ensures that every older American can grow old free of discrimination. One that provides our elders with financial security, adequate health care, affordable and welcoming housing, and culturally competent services.

SAGE stands firm for a policy agenda that makes older Americans a national priority, and that ensures that LGBT elders and elders from all diverse communities – who are among the most vulnerable in our society – are at the center of that priority. SAGE will do everything in our power to advocate for such an agenda. We will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back progress. As is our tradition, we will combine our advocacy with a commitment to work in communities nationwide to ensure that LGBT elders have the services and supports they need.

This year’s campaign season has left many in our communities deeply fearful of what is to come. In the face of such fears, we at SAGE are inspired and fortified by the wisdom of our elders who have lived through decades of witch hunts, brutality, criminalization, stigma, AIDS and so much more. Our elders remind us that through all of these unspeakably difficult challenges, we always found hope, stood firm, and made progress. We do not know what is to come in the months and years ahead. But what we do know is that we will honor our elders’ example by continuing to build the equitable world that they, and we, deserve. 

Sincerely,

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Michael Adams

LGBT elders needing emotional support are invited to call the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline, which went live on November 1. SAGE recently established the hotline to make sure that LGBT elders have support no matter where they live. Provided in partnership with the GLBT National Help Center, calls are being taken at 888-234-SAGE (7243) on Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays.

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 YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

"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.

 

September 27, 2016

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

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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.