In honor of February being African American History Month, SAGE will be highlighting our diverse programs, constituents and stories relevant to black aging. Check back for featured stories every Tuesday, with additional posts throughout the month.
Our stories connect us and allow us to share common bonds through the use of words, pictures, music and video. Today, we would like to share stories from four African American women from around the country. Each of their voices and stories are different, but all share the desire for recognition and hope for the future. If you have a story to share, please tell us by visiting our SAGE Story portal on the SAGE website.
Cheryl & Elizabeth, SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
The two tell us about how despite growing up in faith-based traditions that did not affirm their being lesbians, they somehow met at church. They explain how their faith joined them together and how 10 years later, they are still together and still in church and are accepted in their community!
Frances, SAGE Harlem, New York City
Frances, 72, is a lover of Zumba and food! She shares her experience of having a stroke and how her lover of 20 years was so supportive and caring of her in the hospital. She wants women to know that they have the power and strength to get better after a debilitating situation such as herself. Listen to her story, recorded in 2013 for SAGE Story, below.
Helena, SAGE Center on Halsted, Chicago
Helena, a transgender older adult diagnosed with HIV, shares her powerful story in a wonderful essay. She writes, "the most important thing I learned in accepting myself as transgender and also living with HIV/AIDS was about stigma. I realized that my fear of disclosing my HIV/AIDS status was extremely unhealthy and only contributed to my loneliness and isolation, and would cause me to indeed die faster." Read an excerpt below and the whole story here.
My name is Helena and I am a 60-year-old transgender female living with HIV. I am not a victim. An HIV/AIDS diagnosis is NOT a death sentence, but is similar to living with breast cancer or diabetes, which through some lifestyle changes, are manageable diseases.
I was diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 2002, and was told I would not live more than six months, and at best, a year. Along with my doctors, I believe that I was a "late tester," meaning because I was diagnosed with AIDS—a late stage infection—and not HIV, I likely contracted HIV 15 to 20 years before showing any sign or symptoms. Because people can carry HIV/AIDS asymptomatically, it is important to be tested on a regular basis to avoid a late test and spreading the disease.
Read her whole story here.