June 12, 2014

Portraits of Pride: Frances Gordon

Pride month is underway! To celebrate, we're sharing “Portraits of Pride” each week throughout June, featuring SAGE participants. This week we're introducing Frances Gordon, a lesbian originally from Georgia who has called New York City home for so long now that it "feels like forever".

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Frances stays fit with a regular workout routine, but she loves a good party, too. She remembers past Pride celebrations at a women's bar called Bonnie & Clyde's, which was on West 3rd Street in New York City (you can read more about it here). 

Bonnie & Clyde's closed in the mid-1980's, and Frances remembers that women's bars were sometimes hard to keep track of. She says that they opened and closed so quickly that "sometimes they only lasted a month or so".  Regardless of the location, Frances celebrates SAGE Pride with grace and a terrific smile!

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

June 11, 2014

A Quick Chat with SAGE Participant Shelley Teitelbaum

SAGE and its affiliates offer dozens of programs every month throughout the country. Our monthly “Quick Chats” with SAGE participants offer a first-person perspective on these programs and a little more insight into the remarkable folks who make up our community. This month we spoke with Shelley Teitelbaum, a 75-year-old New York City native who has been a SAGE participant for two and a half years. 

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Thanks for taking the time to do this, Shelley. Where are you from originally?

I’m a native New Yorker; I’ve lived in the village since 1963. 

And what do you do?

I’m a retired attorney; I had a general civil practice. When I retired I was looking for ways to fill my time, so I started coming to SAGE for the Conscious Creative Aging group, a monthly book club, and dinner. I also teach French at another senior center near Washington Square. SAGE is important to me as a lesbian, because it provides services. But it’s also important that it provides a good meal and a chance to hang out—to have book clubs, listen to music, things like that.

What’s your favorite aspect of SAGE?

I especially love my creative aging group—being with eleven other gay and lesbian men and women—because they’re fearless! We share hopes, joys, fears, and learn from one another what it’s like to age. We didn’t learn about that in school, you know.  We start each meeting with a meditation, then share our responses to readings and share thoughts on selected topics. We work on how to deal with aging gracefully and consciously. 

That sounds beautiful! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

It’s been a pleasure!

--Posted by Kira Garcia 

 

June 5, 2014

Portraits of Pride: Michael Roberts and Michael Johnson

Pride month has begun! To celebrate, we’ll share a “Portrait of Pride” each week throughout June, featuring SAGE participants. This week we're introducing Michael Roberts and Michael Johnson, who were photographed in their home. 

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Michael Roberts (left) and Michael Johnson (right) have been together for more than thirty years, having met at a party when, as Michael Johnson says, “Michael [Roberts] went to meet the host—I went to flirt with everybody!” More recently, they became the first gay male couple to be legally married in New York State.

Michael and Michael live together in a historic Harlem townhouse that they’ve lovingly restored, and have been SAGE participants and treasured friends of the community for decades. 

-- Posted by Kira Garcia 

June 2, 2014

Remembering Arlene Kochman, Former Executive Director of SAGE

SAGE is saddened to announce the recent passing of Arlene Klarfeld Kochman, who served as  Executive Director from 1991 to 1996. 

Arlene oversaw the rapid expansion of SAGE services , dramatically expanding the numbers of LGBT elders receiving support, and relocating SAGE to its current headquarters at 305 7th Avenue in Manhattan.  

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Arlene Kochman, former Executive Director of SAGE

 

Arlene was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who also brought increased visibility to issues related to HIV and aging. She made important contributions to the public dialogue on this issue, which remains a key focus for SAGE policy advocacy and services  today.

In 1993, Arlene was quoted by the New York Times in an article about New York City’s domestic partnership registry, which acknowledged same-sex couples and served as an important benchmark on the road to marriage equality.  

"It means something," said Arlene Kochman, executive director of Senior Action in a Gay Environment in Manhattan. "The more people who say, 'We are domestic partners and we have this piece of paper,' the more it will begin to be known that this is a binding agreement and it will be respected." 

Arlene forged and witnessed remarkable progress for LGBT elders and SAGE--and for the larger LGBT equality movement--during her lifetime. Her dedication and leadership are remembered with great gratitude and fondness. 

May 30, 2014

A Major Victory: Medicare Will Cover Transition-Related Care

Today, the 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 covers medically necessary care for those with other medical conditions.  In short, Medicare will now cover transition-related care for transgender older adults. 

SAGE applauds our advocacy partners, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), for their tireless advocacy on this issue.  This is an important milestone for transgender older adults, who after a lifetime of being denied medically necessary care, are finally on a level playing field with other Medicare recipients. Older transgender individuals are now able to get the comprehensive medical coverage they need and deserve. 

The ability to access complete gender-transition related health care is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of transgender patients.  The Medicare policy denying this care ran counter to decades of extensive scientific and clinical research, which supports surgically altering an individual's primary and secondary sex characteristics as a safe, effective and medically necessary treatment for severe gender dysphoria. This decision is lifesaving for many transgender individuals suffering from severe gender dysphoria.  Both the medical and mental health professions have recognized that when denied proper medical care, individuals with gender dysphoria can develop severe psychological distress, dysfunction, and debilitating depression -- placing them at increased risk for suicide and self-harm. 

Recognizing the dangers of denying proper medical care, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have issued policy statements recognizing the medical necessity for gender transition-related treatments including hormone therapy and/or sex reassignment surgeries, as well as mental health care. For more information on this important change, the National Center for Transgender Equality has put together a comprehensive fact sheet on Medicare coverage of transition-related care.

-- Posted by Aaron Tax, SAGE's Director of Federal Government Relations

May 29, 2014

Aging and HIV: New Insights, New Recommendations

In the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most people diagnosed faced death within a few years, if not sooner. Thirty years on, much has changed; HIV has become a more manageable chronic illness and many people are aging with the disease. 

The proof is in these startling statistics: it's predicted that 50 percent of people with HIV in the U.S. will be age 50+ by 2015—and by 2020, more than 70 percent of Americans with HIV are expected to 50+.

With that in mind, SAGE, the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) and ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America)  have created a report outlining eight recommendations to address the needs of a growing demographic of older adults with HIV, many of whom are LGBT and people of color. The full report, Eight Policy Recommendations for Improving the Health & Wellness of Older Adults with HIV, can be found online here.  

In conjunction with this project, several leaders in the field joined forces for a recent national teleconference on HIV & Aging. Among the many issues discussed, Dan Tietz of ACRIA highlighted the power of images. Tietz reminded listeners that "It's important to target prevention messages to older adults. Don't use images of young adults and teenagers to reach at risk older adults." 

As the experience of living with HIV/AIDS has changed, our approach to care and messages about prevention must also evolve. This new report should serve as an important resource in accomplishing that goal. 

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

 

Exploring Housing Struggles and Solutions in a New Webinar

One of the biggest issues facing many LGBT older adults in cities and towns across the country is finding safe, affordable housing. With this in mind, SAGE and Enterprise Community Partners are co-presenting a webinar on June 4th from 2:30pm-4:00pm ET, on building housing services and supports that are inclusive and supporting of LGBT elders.

Due to higher levels of financial insecurity and a general lack of affordable housing, many LGBT elders find that they cannot afford homes in the communities in which they have lived for years. Others face harassment and intimidation in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals, other residents, and even their own family members. [1] In fact, in a recent report, the San Francisco Aging Policy Task Force concluded, “that the number one problem LGBT older adults are dealing with…is ensuring they have stable housing.”[2] 

Join this outstanding panel as they discuss public policy solutions including: increasing access to affordable housing, connecting health care providers to housing providers, addressing housing discrimination, and increasing the number of LGBT culturally competent housing providers. 

Building Housing Services & Supports Webinar

Wednesday, June 4
2:30pm-4:00pm ET
Register online here

Moderator
Michael Adams, Executive Director, SAGE

Panelists

  • Cheryl Gladstone, Senior Housing Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
  • Kat Taylor, Disability Rights Program Manager, Equal Rights Center
  • Seth Kilbourn, Executive Director, Openhouse
  • Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director, SAGE Metro St. Louis

Facilitator
Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives, SAGE

 


[1] The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H.J., Emlet, C. A., Muraco, A., Erosheva, E. A.,Hoy Ellis, C. P., Goldsen, J., Petry, H., Institute for Multigenerational Health, 2011, http://caringandaging.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Full-report10-25-12.pdf

[2] LGBT Aging Panel Zeros in on Housing, Matthew J. Bajko, Bay Area Reporter, March 6, 2014,  http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=69531

 

May 21, 2014

After Marriage Equality, What’s Next?

Today's post is from Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives for SAGE. Follow Serena on Twitter at @SerenaWorthy

As marriage equality becomes law in state after state including my home, Illinois, many advocacy organizations are asking themselves and their communities, “What’s next?” With this in mind, I was excited to present at the LGBT Equality Institute hosted by Equality Illinois on May 17, the 10th anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts (the first state to do so). 

The Institute focused on myriad issues still facing the LGBT community. I asked Roey Thorpe, Director of Advocacy Programs for the Equality Federation, if community conversations like this are the trend and the answer was a great, big, “Yes!”  Thorpe says that “What’s next?” is of the biggest questions facing the LGBT movement right now.

She also said that for “activists in states that have achieved their legislative agendas, the challenge is to reframe our work and continue to motivate and inspire people so that we maintain the political power we have worked so hard to build. We still have so much work ahead of us: making discrimination illegal in the remaining 29 states; reducing violence against transgender people; and achieving the policy solutions that have eluded us.”

Roey adds, “In the many states where people are grappling with this question have shifted their focus from legislation toward ‘lived equality,’ looking at the experience of LGBT people and our loved ones from cradle to grave, understanding where the disparities exist and creating approaches that will make a real difference in the quality of life for our communities."

For more on the 29 states without discrimination protections for LGBT people, check out this eye-opening map from the Center for American Progress.

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Serena Worthington with Gautam Raghavan, White House Public Engagement Advisor on LGBT Issues

 

The Institute drew 150 attendees from across Illinois drawn by a slate of great topics. I attended two excellent sessions: a keynote panel on the Federal LGBT Policy Agenda with U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a senior member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, Gautam Raghavan, White House Public Engagement Advisor on LGBT Issues, and Meg Gorecki, Midwest Director for the U.S. Department of Justice and a session on Access to Health Care as a Civil Rights Issue.

In the latter session, David Munar, the newly appointed Executive Director of Howard Brown Health Center, addressed the question of the day directly, saying that, "Achieving marriage equality is great but how do we harness that energy to improve health care access across every letter of the L, G, B and T and across the entire age span?”

Over the years, I have co-presented with Britta Larson, Director of Senior Services, at SAGE Center on Halsted many times and it was a great pleasure to do so again. During our session, LGBT Older Adults: Preparing for the Age Wave, we reviewed the culture, needs and concerns of LGBT older adults and offered best practices on how to better serve LGBT older adults who are currently seeking access to basic services. A number of people raised concerns about the readiness of mainstream aging providers to serve LGBT elders. I was glad to be part of the larger conversation about where the LGBT movement is headed and to have the opportunity to hear from LGBT elders about their priorities.

 

May 15, 2014

A Chat With SAGE Participant Michelle Malloy

May is Older Americans Month! To celebrate, we're launching a series of conversations with SAGE participants on our blog.These 'quick chats' will reveal a bit more about the fabulous folks who enjoy the incredible array of programs offered by SAGE. Our first chat is with SAGE participant Michelle Malloy, who has been a SAGE participant since 2010. She is a 55-year-old bisexual New York City native who has been out since 1977. We caught up with Michelle at our Women's Group in Harlem. 
 
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Michelle (left) and her partner Karen at SAGE Harlem

 

Thanks for talking with me Michelle! So when did you come out?

I came out at age 18 in 1977. My cousin Cynthia [a SAGE staffer] was already out; she paved the way for me. We had a lot of fun going to clubs together in the city, like the Loft and Paradise Garage.

And you’re here with your girlfriend, is that right?

Yes, my partner Karen Massey and I have been together since 1991. She’s my best friend. When I fell down in the train station in December she was the first person I called. We help each other. People don’t always think we’re a couple though. As we get older, people look at us differently. Sometimes people think she’s my aunt or my mom!

And what do you love most about her?

She’s honest—about everything!

What do you do professionally? Are you out at work?

I work part time as an Executive Assistant in a neurosurgery office. I came out at work in 1985. I didn’t really experience any difference in how I was treated after I came out. I’m looking forward to retirement at age 62!

Exciting! What are you planning to do with your retirement?

Travel--to Vegas, or any country with a casino! I love to gamble.

What was your biggest win?

I once won $6400—it was $4200 after taxes. I used it to pay off my credit card.

That’s so practical!

Yes, you’ve got to be!

Any advice for our readers?

Live your life to the fullest—it’s so short! Don’t let anyone tell you how to live it!

Great advice—thank you Michelle!

-- Posted by Kira Garcia 

May 14, 2014

The State of HIV and Aging: National Teleconference May 28

In recognition of Older Americans Month, SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America) and the Diverse Elders Coalition are co-sponsoring a national teleconference on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014, 2-3PM ET, on the issues facing older adults with HIV -- a rapidly growing demographic with distinct needs and pronounced disparities. It’s estimated that by 2015, one in two people with HIV in the U.S. will be 50 and older, many of whom are LGBT and people of color. The teleconference will include an update on the state of the AIDS epidemic among older people, as well as a discussion on policy opportunities that would improve the health and overall wellness of older people with HIV. Leaders from the aging, LGBT and HIV/AIDS fields will also discuss how providers can best support people with HIV as they age.

When: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Time: 2:00-3:00 PM ET
Dial In: (559) 726-1300
Participant Passcode: 292757#

To RSVP, or for more information, please e-mail Bryan Pacheco to bpacheco@diverseelders.org

Speakers:

Dr. Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director of Global Health & HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation

Dan Tietz, RN, JD, Executive Director, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA)

Hilary Meyer, Director, National Programs, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Bryan Pacheco, National Coordinator, Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC)

Naomi Schegloff, Project Co-Director, of The Graying of AIDS