26 posts categorized "Elders of Color"

October 16, 2013

Open Letter to Health Reform Advocates: Pay Attention to Discrimination

This post, from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE, was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here and follow Robert on Twitter.

Usa_healthThe harms inflicted by discrimination reveal themselves in our bodies as we age -- as people of color, as poor and low-income people, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The symptoms manifest as higher rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, social isolation and more. In medical charts throughout the country, our bodies record what it means to survive a life shaped by perpetual poverty, higher concentrations in low-wage jobs with no health insurance, thin retirement options and inadequate protections in the workplace. They depict our fractured relationships to health care -- from cultural and linguistic barriers to overt bias and discrimination from health and aging providers, to a long-held, hard-earned distrust of medical staff internalized through years of differential treatment.

Our bodies confirm vividly the geographic dimensions of structural inequality, which can predict long-term health as early as childhood, based largely on where a person is born. We inhale the poison of inequality throughout our lives, and it inflames in our later years as a dismal diagnosis, a medical crisis or a preventable death. Yes, severe illness will surprise many of us at some point in our lives, and death is indiscriminate, but as empirical fact,poor health affects certain demographics disproportionately at earlier and higher rates, often the same people with no health coverage to manage the repercussions.

Continue reading "Open Letter to Health Reform Advocates: Pay Attention to Discrimination" »

September 10, 2013

Five Reasons October 1 Matters to Older People of Color

HhsbadgeSAGE will be providing information throughout the month of September on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Stay tuned weekly for videos, fact sheets and informational blog posts that will get you ready for the October 1 enrollment! 

Beginning January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires everyone to have health insurance or pay a financial penalty. To help individuals and their families find plans that fit their needs and budgets, states will run Health Insurance Marketplaces. The new Health Insurance Marketplace (“the Marketplace”) open enrollment period begins Oct. 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014.

1837119 (1)The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) understands that enrolling older people and their families in health coverage plans is a key part of improving the health of our nation. The DEC represents some of our most vulnerable older adults: older people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people, many of whom begin dealing with the challenges of aging as early as their 50s. The Marketplace will impact uninsured or underinsured older people who are in the 50-64 age range differently than those who are 65 or older, many of whom are already covered by Medicare. Moreover, many elders age 65+ are confused on how the Marketplace and broader ACA implementation will affect them. Thus, there exists a need to educate them about new ACA benefits, such as expansion of Medicare benefits, lower-cost prescription drugs and free preventive services. And for uninsured older people 50-64 years old, they will need to actively interact with their Marketplace to find a health insurance plan that fits their needs.

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is highlighting how the Marketplace affects communities of color and, as part of these efforts, asked that the DEC describe how the marketplace will impact older people of color, a percentage of whom are LGBT. Here are five reasons:

  1. The Health Insurance Marketplace offers affordable insurance to older people of color who face high poverty rates and are more likely to be uninsured than their peers—conditions that worsen with age. People of color are more likely to be poor and without health insurance coverage—they make up more than half of America’s uninsured. This demographic includes African Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives. In addition, the number of uninsured older adults age 50-64 continues to rise—from 3.7 million in 2000 to 8.9 million in 2010. These high rates of uninsured people are due in part to a history of low earnings, discrimination in health care practices and high or unaffordable premiums for health insurance for many people of color. The Marketplace will address these challenges by offering affordable coverage and financial assistance to those with lower incomes.
  2. The Health Insurance Marketplace will help to ensure that older people of color no longer feel the need to postpone critical health care services. According to the Center for American Progress, being uninsured often means postponing necessary care—and chronically ill, uninsured patients are four to six times more likely than sick patients with insurance to have problems accessing care. That’s why people of color in the U.S. are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed, they receive poorer care. The Marketplace will allow older people of color to manage their health more proactively, and it will also cut high out-of-pocket costs associated with emergency room visits when a crisis hits.
  3. The Health Insurance Marketplace can address the health disparities widely affecting older people of color, many of whom are LGBT. Research shows that people of color, across the age span, face significant disparities in physical and mental health. Additionally, many people of color delay care because of potential medical costs and out of fear of discrimination or cultural incompetence from medical providers. These issues are especially true for LGBT people of color who face challenges on multiple aspects of their identities. A recent research report highlighted the many ways in which policy makers and professionals can better support LGBT older people of color across areas related to health equity and health care access. It can start with making insurance more affordable and health care more prevalent.
  4. The Health Insurance Marketplace ensures that no application for health insurance is rejected due to preexisting medical conditions, such as HIV, which disproportionately affects communities of color and older people. For example, research project that within the next few years, one in two people with HIV in this country will be age 50 or older. The HIV/AIDS epidemic that has also adversely impacted LGBT people, many of whom are people of color. Prior to the ACA most states allowed health insurers to charge higher premiums because of these conditions. Insurers who sell coverage in the Marketplace will be required to accept all applicants, including those with preexisting medical conditions.
  5. The Health Insurance Marketplace supports the entire family unit, including families of choice, while honoring the role that elders play in our communities. The DEC knows well that older adults play an important role in our communities and in our families, broadly defined to include blood relatives, spouses and partners, caregivers and friends. The 2000 U.S. Census shows that 4.5 million children are living in grandparent-headed homes, many of whom are between 55 and 64. Thus, when the Marketplace supports the health and health care options of an older person of color, it also supports the lives of the many people in his/her family unit and broader ecosystem.
This entry was previously posted on August 22, 2013 on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog. Read the original here.
July 12, 2013

A New Documentary on LGBT Aging

BeforeYouKnowIt-460x460Near the end of June, SAGE had the pleasure of screening the film, Before You Know It, at The SAGE Center, just a few days after its New York City premiere at Lincoln Center. This moving documentary follows three older gay men from different parts of the country, painting portraits of three very different lives.  The film’s Facebook page describes its subjects this way:

“Born before the Civil Rights era, these men have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes, from the Stonewall Riots and gay liberation, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and Queer Nation, to gay marriage and Lady Gaga, and have lived to become part of an unprecedented ‘out’ elder generation. BEFORE focuses on the lives of these three gay seniors, but reminds us that while LGBT elders face a specific set of issues, aging and its challenges are universal. An affirmation of life and human resilience told with a refreshing humor and candor, BEFORE confirms that you are never too old to reshape society.”

Before You Know It holds a special place in SAGE’s heart, because one of the three men starring in the movie is SAGE’s very own Ty Martin, Harlem Community Liaison at SAGE Harlem in New York City. Over the course of a couple of years, the film’s director & producer PJ Raval and producer Sara Giustini, along with their film crew, spent quite a bit of time with Ty, constituents of SAGE Harlem, and in the Harlem LGBT community. What emerges is a story of an incredibly warm and supportive community, joyfully celebrating advances for LGBT equality while acknowledging the difficulties and struggles of being gay, older and African American.

PJ, Sara and their crew took incredible care with Ty’s story, and presumably took the same care with the stories of the film’s other two protagonists, Robert and Dennis. Robert is from Galveston, Texas, where he owns the state’s oldest gay bar. Dennis splits his time between Florida and Portland; a widower in his 70s, he has only just started to explore his sexual identity. Together, these three men’s experiences weave a picture of strength, resilience, and the importance of being surrounded by friends and peers who understand and support each other. The film also provides a window into the diverse lives of LGBT older adults, busting through common ageist stereotypes and showing viewers that there is no singular “LGBT elder story.”

Visit the official site of Before You Know It to view the trailer. Before You Know It will be screened next in Los Angeles at OutFest, on July 14. Other screenings in July include Philadelphia, Dallas, Galveston, and Denver. If you’re in one of these cities, get your tickets now and see this film!

June 27, 2013

Addressing the Needs of LGBT Hispanic Older Adults in the U.S

In reconition of National HIV Testing Day and the efforts of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) to raise awareness of this event, SAGE is reposting this Diverse Elders Coalition blog post from NHCOA's President and CEO, Dr. Yanira Cruz. At 2:00 PM EST on June 27, 2013, NHCOA will be hosting their first Twitter chat on HIV testing, awareness and the Hispanic older adult community. Join them by following @NHCOA and use #NHTDiverse to ask/answer questions.


With the rapid growth of our diverse population, our country is becoming more beautiful than ever. But unfortunately, there are still some groups that are not well understood by the nation’s service providers, or by local, state and federal governments. One of those groups is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) older adults. And in order to better understand the reality of this diverse community, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) conducted an analysis through a literature review, focus groups (one was held at The SAGE Center; SAGE is fellow member organization of the Diverse Elders Coalition) and in-depth interviews with LGBT Hispanic older adults, including the service providers who work with them.

We have found that Hispanic LGBT older adults face challenges in the areas of economic security and health, often times because of the lack of research on the needs and perspectives of this population. This can be reversed if there is more knowledge on the specific health issues impacting Hispanic LGBT older adults and if policies are tailored to help Hispanic LGBT older adults achieve economic security. For example, policy makers can repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to allow Social Security to provide full spousal, survivor, and funeral benefits to married same-sex couples.

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Continue reading "Addressing the Needs of LGBT Hispanic Older Adults in the U.S" »

May 31, 2013

Untold stories of Asian & Pacific Islander LGBT Elders: “I think the need to be accepted overcame their need to be themselves.”

The following is a guest post by Bryan Pacheco, National Coordinator of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

 

Three things to know as May ends and we look towards June:

  1. May is Older Americans Month.
  2. It’s also Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
  3. And I worked for the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults, SAGE.

So, what does this mean?

George
George Takei, Copyright: georgetakei.com
Well, for me, it made me really think: What are the stories being told about older LGBT AAPI people? Are they even being told? Outside of the amazing George Takei, I can’t think of another prominent openly gay Asian American older person. Can you?

 

I am Puerto Rican, gay and not yet 30 years old, so the stories of older LGBT AAPI people are not my personal story. Therefore, it was important that I find individuals who could tell and share these stories… And that was difficult.

For starters, it took me some time to locate older LGBT AAPI people who were willing to share their stories publicly. Even at The SAGE Center, located in a diverse city that is generally LGBT-friendly, I found this to be true. After speaking to a number of people, I quickly learned that silence and visibility are issues within this segment of the community.

For example, I heard:

Continue reading "Untold stories of Asian & Pacific Islander LGBT Elders: “I think the need to be accepted overcame their need to be themselves.”" »

May 15, 2013

Infographic: LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—by the Numbers

Infographic
Preview. Download the full infographic below
May is Older Americans Month, a time to honor elders’ contributions to our communities. The official site encourages all of us to show our support for Older Americans Month by unleashing the power of age in our community. For the month of May, we will feature a story every Wednesday relevant to LGBT older Americans.

Americans who are people of color, older adults and LGBT identified (referred to in this blog post as LGBT elders of color) often have unique needs because of the intersections of identities. LGBT elders of color are historically marginalized on multiple fronts and their needs are often under addressed in the mainstream aging field and in the popular LGBT rights movement.

To bring awareness to these challenges, in April SAGE released Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color, a report that examines health disparities faced by LGBT elders of color, and offers policy solutions in 10 areas to address these challenges. You can download the report at sageusa.org.

Today, SAGE is supplementing that report with the release of LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—By the Numbers, a striking infographic that illustrates the many health and wellness challenges faced by older adults who are people of color and/or LGBT. Some of the findings include:

  • Among LGBT elders, aged 50+, 47% have a disability
  • One quarter of transgender elders age 50+ are in poor health, and 22% could not afford to see a doctor
  • Black people are 2X, and Latino people are about 1.5X more likely, than their White counterparts to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias
  • American Indian/Alaska Native people have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than other racial/ethnic groups

Download the infographic LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—By the Numbers, today! Help raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBT elders of color by sharing it widely.

Continue reading "Infographic: LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—by the Numbers" »

May 6, 2013

StoryCorps: A Transgender Woman’s Journey from Hiding to “Walking in Love”

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Alexis Martinez (left) and her daughter Lesley
Alexis Martinez grew up in a rough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1960s. She knew she was transgender from an early age.

Alexis (whose birth name is Arthur) struggled with her identity, as did her family. At 13, she came out as transgender to her mother. Alexis’ mother called the police, who laughed and told her, “You've got a fag for a son, and there's nothing we can do about it.”

As a result, Alexis joined a gang and “went as macho as [she] could be, to mask what [she] really was underneath.” 

Alexis has a daughter, who accepts her for who she is. Says her daughter Lesley: "You don't have to apologize. You don't have to tiptoe. We're not going to cut you off. And that is something that I've always wanted you to, you know, just know—that you're loved."

Continue reading "StoryCorps: A Transgender Woman’s Journey from Hiding to “Walking in Love”" »

April 19, 2013

Marriage Equality: Finding Each Other & Acceptance

Dr. Imani Woody and Andrea Macko were married in 2010 and are staunch supporters and advocates for LGBT older adults in Washington, D.C. and beyond! Listen to their SAGE Story podcast and learn how they met, got involved and eventually received acceptance from their family.

Can’t play the podcast here? Go to SAGE’s Podomatic page to hear it.

Dr. Imani Woody was recently featured in The Washington Blade for her panel appearance entitled "Aging with Pride" and is the head of our SAGENet D.C. Affiliate. Both women are involved in Mary's House—a residential facility committed to providing LGBT friendly, safe and affordable housing.

April 17, 2013

Health Equity for LGBT Older People of Color

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Screenshot of SAGE's new policy report

This is a guest post by Robert Espinoza, SAGE's Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications. April is National Minority Health Month and in today's post, Robert writes about the health disparities faced by LGBT older people of color and the release of SAGE's new policy report "Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color.” The report can be downloaded here.

This post was originally featured on the Huffington Post, and can also be seen on the Diverse Elders Coalition’s website


Helena Bushong is 60, transgender and living with HIV/AIDS. In 2002, she was dually diagnosed with HIV and AIDS and given six months to live. Ty Martin is an aging advocate who leads a support group for older gay black men with HIV/AIDS in the historic Harlem neighborhood of New York City. His group members grapple with stigma, the questions related to accelerated aging as HIV-positive people, and a general longing for community. Both Helena and Ty are LGBT and people of color. And both of them combat the health disparities and socio-economic challenges associated with aging as people who are marginalized on multiple fronts—a reality rarely discussed in the mainstream aging field or in the popular LGBT rights movement. The virtual silence on this subject lives out in their personal and political lifespans. 

Continue reading "Health Equity for LGBT Older People of Color" »

March 18, 2013

Diverse Elders Coalition Blog Re-launches!

Meme1The Diverse Elders Coalition is made up of five national organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for this country’s diverse aging communities.

Together, we represent a growing majority of millions of older people throughout the country—racially and ethnically diverse older adults; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults; and poor and low-income older adults. We have come together to promote policy changes and programmatic solutions that respond to this demographic shift and will remove the barriers facing our communities. We envision a world where all older adults can live full and active lives as they age.

Read about the re-launch here.