33 posts categorized "News Roundup"

October 20, 2015

20th Annual SAGE Awards and Gala

On Monday, October 19, 2015, SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders) held its 20th Anniversary Awards & Gala at Gotham Hall in New York. The event raised over $750,000–a SAGE record–and served to recognize SAGE’s achievements throughout the country, as well as honoring five leaders committed to improving life among diverse LGBT aging populations. The honorees included Jim Obergefell, who will be presented with the LGBT Pioneer Award by SAGE board member emerita Edie Windsor. This was Mr. Obergefell’s first award from a national organization.

The 20th Anniversary SAGE Awards & Gala also introduced the Jack Watters Corporate Advocate Award, honoring Stephen Simcock of JPMorgan Chase for his leadership on LGBT senior housing. Assemblymember Deborah Glick—the first openly gay member elected to the New York State legislature—received the Paula Ettelbrick Community Service Award.  SAGE also acknowledged Ted Snowdon & Duffy Violante for their continuous support of LGBT community programs, and the Macquarie Group for its commitment to SAGE Center Harlem and SAGE’s national programs.

Gabriella Pizzolo, child-star of Fun Home—Broadway’s first-ever musical with a lesbian protagonist and winner of five 2015 Tony Awards—rounded out the evening with a special performance of “Ring of Keys.

August 25, 2015

Connecting the Dots Creates New Leadership

This post, written by SAGE Executive Director, Michael Adams, was originally featured on Gay City News on Augut 20, 2015

Michael Adams, SAGE Executive Director

After the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality in late June, 26 million friends of the LGBTQ community showed their support — at least on that issue —by putting a rainbow filter over their Facebook profile picture. Ultimately, the freedom to marry and #LoveWins became a “sexy” way for new allies to express their solidarity en masse. It was easy — by clicking a button the supporter and supported both could feel good basking in the glow of new equality and community. I won’t critique the value of the effort– – I have to admit that when I saw the rainbow over the face of my staunchly Catholic straight cousin, it meant a lot.

But the gritty work that forges equity at the deepest crossroads of disenfranchisement and marginalization in our society often isn’t so sexy. What it takes to be an ally isn’t as easy as momentary solidarity and the click of a button. It takes commitment and sacrifice — putting a real stake in the ground. That’s why it’s noteworthy that at SAGE in recent years we’ve seen the emergence of true new leaders in the struggle for dignity and equity for LGBT elders. Even more importantly, some of the most game-changing new leaders have come from outside LGBT communities.

These stories of new leadership are a tribute to the courage and vision of new leaders for our cause — individuals who know how to “connect the dots” of social justice and are willing to do so. The stories also reflect emerging strategies of SAGE and other diverse elder communities — strategies that recognize how systems of oppression and privilege intersect, and turn that recognition into powerful action for change and greater equity.

Stepping Out for LGBT Elders of Color in New York
It’s not surprising that the country’s first full-fledged senior center for LGBT elders is located in Chelsea. The historical roots of New York City’s modern LGBT community, and of SAGE itself, are located right down the street in the West Village. Many elders from the Stonewall generation still live, as they have for decades, in the rent-controlled walk-up apartments that remain in these neighborhoods. While this is SAGE’s historical backyard, we also recognize that many of those who most need senior center services are LGBT elders of color — who live at the intersection of LGBTQ identity, race, advanced age, and in many cases poverty. Yet, for the most part, that’s not who was using the SAGE Center in Chelsea. The fact is that, apart from the valiant efforts of GRIOT Circle, the country’s only LGBT elders of color organization, the needs of LGBT elders of color have largely been disregarded. Most elders want to age in place — by continuing to reside in their neighborhoods and communities. For the vast majority of New York City’s LGBT elders of color, that means Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens — not Chelsea.

SAGE’s recent advocacy efforts on behalf of low-income LGBT elders of color across New York City have attracted important new leaders to our cause. Support for our work historically has come predominantly from older white gays and lesbians and a small group of New York City Council members who make up the LGBT Caucus and understand the needs of the city’s LGBT communities. The successful advocacy for public funding for SAGE Centers across New York City broke the mold in part because the advocacy effort was led by Councilmember Ritchie Torres. True, Councilmember Torres is gay and a member of the LGBT Caucus. But he’s also young (at 27, the youngest member of the City Council), of Puerto Rican descent, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, and a champion of the city’s public housing that he was raised in. As somebody who connects the dots and understands the value of services that reflect the needs of diverse communities, Ritchie Torres clearly represents an important new leader for the cause of LGBT elders.

Even more striking is the crucial political support for the citywide LGBT elder initiative that came from the New York City Council as a whole, led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The speaker is not a member of the LGBT community. But she is a progressive Latina leader who has become a powerful and visible champion for a New York City that prioritizes the needs of low-income people of color and who has argued forcefully for an equitable allocation of resources across the city’s neighborhoods. The combination of the speaker’s intersectional values and SAGE’s intersectional strategies resulted in the City Council making an unprecedented $1.5 million investment to open five new LGBT senior centers in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

Diverse Elder Communities Stand Up for Each Other at the National Level
Fortunately, this isn’t just a New York City story. In 2010, SAGE joined with leading people of color aging organizations like the National Hispanic Council on Aging and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging to form the Diverse Elders Coalition, a national collaborative that engages in policy advocacy and community education on behalf of low income LGBT and people of color elders. For participating people of color organizations, the formation of the Coalition represented a decision to formally embrace LGBT older people and their needs as an important part of a diverse elder agenda.

For SAGE, joining the Coalition meant that issues like immigration reform, language competency in aging services, and disenfranchisement of Native American elders needed to become part of our advocacy agenda. Thus, when the National Indian Council on Aging and other people of color aging organizations confronted serious threats to elder workforce programs for their communities, SAGE made protection of those programs one of our policy priorities.

Similarly, people of color organizations in the Diverse Elders Coalition have strongly supported SAGE’s efforts to make the federal Older Americans Act LGBT-inclusive.

Here again, new leaders from beyond the LGBT community have emerged to take up the cause of LGBT elders. Dr. Yanira Cruz, the head of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, has personally championed the first-ever needs assessment of Latino LGBT elders and has participated in LGBTQ conferences across the country. Quyen Dinh and Doua Thor, the present and former heads of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, have been powerful and vocal advocates for LGBT-inclusion in national coalition work in the aging sector. These new leaders for SAGE’s cause have emerged not only as a result of their personal courage and values, but also as a consequence of an intentionally intersectional approach by SAGE and our sister organizations in the Diverse Elders Coalition.

So, we celebrate the 26 million rainbow profile photos on Facebook. But at SAGE, we save our deepest awe and respect for leaders like Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dr. Yanira Cruz, and Quyen Dinh, who have put a powerful stake in the ground for LGBT elders living at the intersection of sexual and gender identity, race, age, and class.

June 3, 2015

SAGE Wins Three 2015 Communicator Awards!

TrophySAGE is proud to announce that it has received three 2015 Communicator Awards from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA)!

The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, interactive and audio. This past year, it received more than 6,000 entries from ad agencies, interactive agencies, production firms, in-house creative professionals, graphic designers, design firms, and public relations firms.

SAGE received a “Gold Award of Excellence” (AIVA’s highest honor) for our Out & Visible report. Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75 was released in the fall of 2014. The study explores the aging realities of LGBT people, as well as their fears, beliefs, behaviors and aspirations in areas such as healthcare, finance and retirement, support systems, housing and sources of information.

We also received two “Silver Awards of Distinction” for our Successful Aging webpage and for our work with our partners at the Diverse Elders Coalition on Eight Policy Recommendations for Improving the Health and Wellness of Older Adults with HIV.

SAGE's marketing and communications have won widespread acclaim and numerous awards.  In 2014, it received an Award of Excellence and an Award of Distinction from the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA). It also received two awards of distinction in 2012 from the IAVA, as well as a GLAAD Amplifier Award for excellence in advertising and social marketing. In 2010, it received a GLAAD Media Award in Advertising for Outstanding Social Marketing for its New York City campaign on caregiving support for LGBT older people. 

December 18, 2014

Join us for a Free Webinar on Out & Visible

LGBT_OAMarketResearch_Rpt-1This fall, SAGE released Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75. The report examined the values, needs, wants and lifestyle preferences of LGBT older people and has been featured in a number of national publications, including Forbes, The Huffington Post and Edge media networks.

We are proud to announce a webinar detailing notable findings from this landmark report. Join us on Friday, January 9, 2015 from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm EST. To register for the webinar, please click here. The webinar ID is 119-423-395. 
Moderated by Serena Worhington, SAGE's Director of National Field Initiatives, our panelists include:

  • Hop Backus, Executive Vice President, States & Communities, AARP
  • Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
  • Robert Espinoza, Senior Director of Policy and Communications, SAGE
  • Lisa Krinsky, Director, LGBT Aging Project, The Fenway Institute
  • Bob Witek, CEO and Co-founder, Witek Communications

To read a copy of the report, please click here. Don't have time for the full version? Check out our Executive Summary here.

September 22, 2014

What’s New on the National Stage

SAGE continues to lead federal efforts to improve the lives of LGBT older people, alongside our national partner organizations in the LGBT and aging fields. This summer, we collaborated with other advocates to win Medicare coverage for transgender older people, FMLA benefits for same-sex couples and an executive order that extends more protections to LGBT people. Learn more about new federal policy updates below.

Executive Order to protect LGBT Workers
SAGE was privileged to be in the room with President Barack Obama on July 21, when, with the stroke of a pen, he put in place protections that will help millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.  In the executive order that he signed that day, he ensured that transgender federal workers are protected against job discrimination based on gender identity.  He also ensured that LGBT employees of federal contractors will be protected against discrimination, which, according to the UCLA’s William’s Institute, protects 34 million of these workers today. Many LGBT older adults, after facing a lifetime of discrimination and lower earnings across the lifespan, continue to workto maintain their economic security.  We welcome the news that this generation--who fought to help many LGBT people out of “the closet”--will be able to bring their full selves to work, at more workplaces, without fear of discrimination.

Medicare Will Cover Transition-Related Care
In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Department Appeals Board (DAB), an independent federal appeals board, ruled that Medicare must cover medically necessary care for individuals with gender dysphoria, just as it does for those with other medical conditions.  In short, Medicare will now cover transition-related care for transgender older adults.  SAGE applauds our advocacy partners—GLAD, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and NCLR—for  their tireless advocacy on this issue.  It was a life-changing victory for transgender older adults, who are finally on a more level playing field with other Medicare recipients.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Benefits Extended to Same Sex Spouses
The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take 12 weeks of leave from their jobs without pay for family and medical reasons.  With the Windsor decision in place (the Supreme Court case that cleared the way for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages), the Department of Labor (DOL) announced in August 2013 that it would recognize same-sex marriages, but only those of couples who live in a state that recognizes their marriage.  In June of this year, the DOL announced a proposed “place of celebration” rule, meaning regardless of where a couple lives or moves, the DOL would recognize that same-sex marriage for FMLA purposes.  If and when the rule becomes final, it would ensure that LGBT individuals who take professional leave to care for a sick spouse will enjoy job security—and a little more peace of mind. 

Social Security

With the Windsor decision in hand, President Obama directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review every federal law, rule, policy and practice implicating marriage. On June 20, 2014, nearly a year after the date of the Windsor decision, DOJ completed its comprehensive, year-long review, providing guidance to federal agencies on Windsor implementation.  What does this mean? According to the review, all federal agencies have now implemented Windsor, meaning they are treating married same-sex and opposite-sex couples the same, to the fullest extent possible, under the law.

But what about Social Security benefits for same-sex couples? Here are a few points to help answer this complex question:


  • If you are married and living in a state that recognizes marriage equality, generally speaking, SSA (the Social Security Administration) will recognize your marriage.
  • If you are in a Civil Union or Registered Domestic Partnership and living in a state that provides those forms of relationship recognition, generally speaking, SSA is going to recognize your relationship as if you were married.
  • If you are married and were living in a state that recognizes marriage equality when you applied for Social Security benefits, or while your application was pending, SSA will honor your marriage even if you move.
  • If, however, none of the above apply (for example, if you’re married but have always been living in a state that does not recognize marriage equality), you will not receive spousal SSA benefits.  For example, if you have always been living in Biloxi, Mississippi, but flew to Washington, DC, just to get married, SSA will not recognize your marriage.


One final important message on this issue:  regardless of where you live, we recommend you apply for spousal Social Security benefits, as new or increased benefits will be granted retroactively.  If the law changes through legislation or litigation, you should get SSA benefits retroactive to the date of your application.

--Posted by Aaron Tax

April 11, 2014

The Growing, Neglected Challenges of LGBT Latino Elders

Robert EspinozaToday’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. It was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Follow Robert on Twitter.

Latino elders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) face additional challenges as they age, compounded by barriers rooted in their racial and ethnic identities, as well as LGBT stigma and discrimination. Yet the attention and infrastructure to ameliorate these conditions is generally lacking. That's the overarching conclusion reached by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) in a first-ever national needs assessment examining the social, economic and political realities of a growing, though multiply marginalized, population.

NCHOA’s report speaks to a timely moment. Demographics project a significant increase in Latino people and older people over the next few decades, trends rooted largely in immigration and the aging of the Baby Boom generation, respectively. For example, the U.S. Census estimates that the number of Latino people age 60 and older will sky-rocket from 4.3 million in 2010 to 22.6 million in 2050. And as societal attitudes and policy changes have made it easier for some segments of the LGBT population to "come out" and live openly, LGBT older people have become increasingly visible in both the aging and long-term care system, as well as society at large.

Yet NHCOA's new report—released in partnership with the national LGBT aging advocacy non-profit, SAGE—contends that this wave has left behind a more marginalized population: LGBT Latino elders. Based on a year's worth of expert interviews, a literature review (that tellingly emphasizes the general dearth in research on LGBT Latino people) and focus groups in four major metropolitan cities with high concentrations of Latinos and LGBT people, NHCOA paints a portrait of Latino LGBT elders aging in communities that aren't accepting of their full identities. LGBT Latinos also report both fearing and encountering biased care providers without the skills or resources to support their unique needs.

Drawing largely from published research, the report describes how many LGBT Latinos enter their later years already facing significant disparities related to physical and mental health, and to health care access and prevention. What are the major drivers of these inequities? According to the report, LGBT Latino elders face financial challenges rooted in lifetimes of discrimination in the workplace and in public benefit programs such as Medicaid and Social Security; lower educational statuses; housing instability; and reduced savings associated with a higher concentration in jobs with low-wage incomes and meager health insurance. It's not simply that LGBT Latino people are in poorer physical and economic health than their peers; it's that they have been systematically impoverished their entire lives by the same policies and institutions meant to protect them—and the effects become visceral in later life.

Perhaps the report's most profound insights are found in the testimonies of LGBT Latino elders interviewed for the report. One respondent describes the overbearing power of religious leaders in destabilizing multicultural LGBT communities: "The ones who kick you out are those who run the church. But those who are rejected believe it’s God who is throwing them out.” Another respondent describes how rejection often comes most painfully from other LGBT people: "Even in our LGBT community when there is someone who says, 'Yes, I am bisexual,' people say, 'Ay no, you are crazy or confused.' I think that there is much discrimination within our community, but as long as you don’t say who you are, things are fine.” Or perhaps the broad societal disregard of older people is the most painful renunciation, as told by one respondent: "We are persons who, because of who we are, people are not interested in."

The report's respondents also exhibit an acute analytical sense, rife with possibilities. One respondent adeptly summarizes the problem as "a lack of information and knowledge about where services are located. There is also a difficulty speaking about one’s own health, as well as a language barrier. This community is not used to speaking about its health, body or sexuality.” And another respondent offers a concise call-to-action to the aging field: "The challenge is to train in our native language the communities or the centers that, in one form or another, are going to provide those services.” The report's recommendations generally abide by this advice. It encourages policies that better fund and deliver supports to all older people (which Latino people and LGBT people disproportionately access), as well as targeted supports for LGBT Latino elders. And it firmly states that the aging field should invest in more multi-lingual, LGBT-friendly outreach, training and services for LGBT Latino older people.

One of the report's more incisive recommendations is to deepen the research on marginalized older people to better craft interventions that will become even more pressing in the ensuing decades, as people of color become the U.S. majority and sexual and gender diversity becomes more salient in civic life. On one level, this could mean better understanding the diversity within "Latino" identities, which encompasses various nationalities, histories, cultures and languages. And it means better studying difference within LGBT people to pinpoint more marginalized sub-groups—transgender people and bisexual people, as two noteworthy examples.

We can't fix what we don't fully understand, is what NHCOA's report ultimately seems to be stating. Yet this report takes us one step closer—and LGBT Latino older people deserve it.


April 7, 2014

Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults and Housing

3141493As our LGBT population ages, research illustrates that the right to safe and affordable housing is not a guarantee. On February26, 2014, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), in partnership with SAGE, released the results of a 10-state testing-based investigation documenting differential treatment against older same-sex couples seeking housing in senior living facilities. The report, Opening Doors: An Investigation of Barriers to Senior Housing for Same-Sex Couples, can be read here. Among other findings, the tests showed that 48% of same-sex couples experienced at least one form of adverse differential treatment when inquiring about senior housing as compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

The report showed the following from the investigation:

  • Housing agents providing information about additional units being available to the tester from an opposite-sex couple;
  • Housing agents advising the tester from the same-sex couple about additional fees, costs, and/or a more extensive application process than were disclosed to the heterosexual tester;
  • Housing agents providing information about additional amenities to the testers from the opposite sex couple that were not mentioned to the tester from the same sex couple; and
  • Housing agents offering "specials" and discounts to the tester from the same-sex couple that were not offered to the tester from the opposite sex couple.

These results highlight the need for further research to provide additional data on housing discrimination against older LGBT adults and for policy remedies that improve housing options for LGBT older adults, no matter where they live. Read our full press release here.

In addition to this report, more LGBT housing news hit the wires, including a thoughtful piece from SAGE Senior Director of Public Policy & Communications Robert Espinoza on the right to housing and aging discrimination in the LGBT community via The Huffington Post. In addition, the New York Times released an article on the need for LGBT-specific senior housing featuring SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams. Serena Worthington, SAGE's director of community advocacy & capacity-building, is quoted in a recent piece from the BBC on thegrowth of gay retirement homes. And SAGE is featured in MSNBC's piece on LGBT housing, which focuses on the opening of the John C. Anderson Apartments in Philadelphia. 


March 24, 2014

SAGE’s Statement to Homophobic Harlem Sign

HarlemIn March 2014, the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem, New York City posted a sign that reads: "Jesus Would Stone Homos. … Stoning is Still the Law," among other disturbing statements. The sign has elicited controversy and concerns from members of the Harlem community, as well as from news outlets and advocates throughout New York City and around the country.

In response to the sign, SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams has responded:

"The deeply offensive and bigoted signage of the Atlah World Missionary Church is the antithesis of the Harlem community that SAGE Harlem has been a part of for the past 10 years.   Throughout SAGE Harlem’s existence, we have been proud to contribute to a community that has increasingly embraced and respected its LGBT members, including LGBT elders.  To see the hateful Atlah signage just two blocks from our SAGE Harlem center is deeply disturbing.  At the same time, we are reassured by the knowledge that this is a fringe group that does not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Harlem community organizations and residents.  In the face of this verbal assault on the human dignity of LGBT people, SAGE and SAGE Harlem will redouble our commitment to contributing to a Harlem community where all are welcome regardless of their sexual orientations or gender identities.

Since 2004, SAGE Harlem has helped ensure that LGBT elders in Harlem, East Harlem and the Bronx can benefit from culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Located in the historic former Theresa Hotel, SAGE Harlem offers bilingual information, referrals, services, programming, educational presentations and social activities for older LGBT residents in the community, and partners with local social service providers to expand access for LGBT consumers and sensitivity to their issues.

To learn more about SAGE Harlem, please visit: http://www.sageusa.org/nyc/harlem.cfm

March 11, 2014

NRC to Accept Award at ASA Conference!


We are pleased to announce that SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging’s training program is being honored for the second time this month with another nationally recognized award for excellence! Today, at the American Society on Aging’s national conference, Aging in America, SAGE will be accepting the Gloria Cavanaugh Award for Excellence in Training and Education. This annual award is given to a training program that shows significant and long-term contributions to the field of aging, and demonstrates exemplary training and educational efforts.

Since the inaugural training in 2011, through a national network of expert certified trainers, SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has been providing training for service providers on how to provide culturally competent care to LGBT older adults. To date, we have trained over 3,640 people, at hundreds of agencies, in over 30 states across the country with measurable results. Take a look at what people are saying about the strength of the trainings and request a training yourself!

March 10, 2014

SAGE Brings LGBT Aging to the 2014 Aging in America Conference

SerenaToday’s post is from Serena Worthington, Director of Community Advocacy and Capacity-Building. Follow her on Twitter.

It’s time once again for the American Society on Aging’s 2014 Aging in America Conference, which begins tomorrow in lovely San Diego! After a winter of weather extremes, I am guessing that many of the attendees are looking forward to thawing out. As a Chicagoan at the tail end of our third coldest winter in history, I am grateful to the conference organizers for their choice of a temperate Southern California location. Good job guys!

Hosted by the American Society on Aging (ASA), Aging in America is the nation’s largest aging conference with 2,500 professional presenting over 500 workshops over five days. For updates from ASA, check out their Facebook page and follow them @asaging. Congratulations to ASA on their 60th anniversary of “supporting the commitment and enhancing the knowledge and skills of those who seek to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families.”

Between now and March 15th, SAGE staff members are involved in 14 of the more than 41 conference workshops, poster sessions, and peer sessions related to LGBT issues, HIV and aging, policy, and sexuality. For a list of all of the sessions on these topics, check out this handy dandy guide complied by ASA.

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