11 posts categorized "Pride"

June 25, 2015

Heroes of Pride: Sally Ann Hay

Every summer, LGBT people across the country step out during Pride season to honor who we are, celebrate the progress we’ve made, and re-energize ourselves for the battles ahead. Yet in the midst of all the revelry and marching, older people are often overlooked. This summer, SAGE is celebrating some lesser-known “Heroes of Pride” on our blog. 

 

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15062518/5ac6ae50-c9f9-4de1-bbc0-1847b8cce3de.png
<em>Sally Ann Hay</em>

Today we’re talking with Sally Ann Hay, a 65-year-old cisgender lesbian woman from Lincoln, Rhode Island, about her history with activism, her involvement with SAGE, and about a notable relative in her family tree.

So glad to talk with you, Sally! Could you share some of your personal story with us? Who do you consider to be your family members?

I’m married to my partner Dee Bird, and I would say my primary family is my family of choice blended with my family of origin (which includes some amazing step-relatives.) I have a brother and two sisters who are aware and accepting. One sister has early onset Alzheimer’s and I’m managing her care, which is somewhat of a challenge because she lives in Arizona. My brother and another sister are devout Christians which initially had me a little worried, but they are both very accepting.

Tell me a little bit about your working life.

I’m a retired psychiatric social worker. I worked in an agency and then in a private practice for the last ten years of my career. I worked with a large number of LGBT people.

What led you to the work in the LGBT community that you’ve done?

I came out at 27 in 1977 and had been very involved in the feminist movement, the antiwar and civil rights movements--and those continue to be very important to me. As for the LGBT movement, I backed into it. When I first moved to Rhode Island I went looking for a lesbian community so I got involved with Options, RI’s LGBT news magazine. The punchline is that at that time, the Options collective was mostly gay men, not many lesbians! But it was great entrée to community. From that, I was involved in helping create Equity Action, a philanthropic fund dedicated to LGBTQ issues. That activity led to me putting on an LGBT elder healthcare seminar, and that led to SAGE!

And then there was my uncle, Harry Hay, who started the Mattachine Society…

Wow, really? That’s amazing!

Yes! I didn’t know Harry when I was growing up—but that was because he was a communist, not because he was gay. As I got to know him in the last years of his life, one of the ideas he championed that really hit home with me was we are a sexual minority and it’s important not to fall prey to the temptation to assimilate. So that’s been my motivation for the last ten years—we are a wonderful people, we aren’t like everybody else. Marriage equality doesn’t solve it.

How did you find out about him being this incredible early leader in the movement?

I was probably in my late 20’s or early 30’s--around 1980. I was in therapy and my therapist said “you must be pleased about the book about your uncle.” And I said “what book?” She was horrified that I didn’t know about the biography that was just coming out [The Trouble with Harry Hay].

When I was able to get a copy, I read in the preface that he was a communist and I thought—oh that’s why my father was so against him! And then reading the book…I wish for everyone that they have a famous relative. It’s just a trip to read your family history! I thought “Wow, this makes so much sense.”

How did you connect with him finally?

I wrote an article about lesbian and gay social workers in the late 80’s. He read it and sent a message to my sister and said “please let your sister know I know she’s a sister.” I wrote a scathing letter [to him] saying “my coming out story is mine and by the way my father doesn’t know and if he’s going to find out, it’ll be from me.” The possibility of his sharing my orientation horrified me. One of his claims to fame is “my safety is dependent on your silence” so he knew the importance of that.

He once said “I’m the Martin Luther King, Jr. of the gay rights movement” and at the time I thought “you arrogant S.O.B.!”  I came to appreciate while at times he was an arrogant S.O.B. and that was what it took to be the phenomenal leader and activist that he was.

I came to really appreciate a personal relationship with him in the last 6 years of his life. For both of us, it was important to have family that was both family of choice and biological. It was really special. Neither of us ever expected to have that.

So tell me more about your involvement with SAGE.

I began to get involved because it was an important issue. But as I aged into the cohort, I realized “Oh this is about me!”

When I first got involved, my partner wondered “Why we should care: we all get older.”  I said, “Just imagine we have need for home health care and someone comes to the house and they’re not ok with LGBT.” That kind of crystallized it.

Those of us in this age group have lived for so long under the radar that we can’t even realize what we don’t expect for ourselves! I’m trying to convey to LGBT older adults that we have a right to demand that we have appropriate healthcare and services available to us.

When we show [the film] “GenSilent”, the thing that amazes me is watching LGBT people make the connection of “Oh my God, who’s gonna take care of me?”  We’re resilient, but there’s an ending where it could get ugly.

Your colleague Cathy Cranston said that “Sally is the glue that held SAGE Rhode Island together over the last dozen years.” What’s the magic formula for that glue?

I’m good at making relationships and putting ideas into practice. Some great connections have grown  out of my attending the Lt. Governor’s Long Term Care Coordination Council over the last several years. In the beginning, my primary contribution was standing up, saying who I was and what group I represented – being sure to articulate what the “GLBT” in SAGE represented.  I’m so ‘normal’ looking, I think there was a certain shock value.  Over time, relationships developed (especially with the previous Lt. Governor), our network grew and the importance of recognizing LGBT olders began to gain traction.  Perseverance.

With age comes wisdom and I’m now backing out of being as involved as I have been —I remembered  that I retired for a reason!

Sounds like you’ve earned a retirement!

Well thank you! I love that proverb, “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go with friends.”  I don’t feel I’ve done this alone. 

--Posted by Kira Garcia

June 19, 2015

SAGE in the Pines!

On June 6, 2015, Dr. Ed Schulhafer hosted the 23rd Annual SAGE Fire Island Pines Celebration. The celebration marks the beginning of Pride Month in New York and was sponsored by Ketel One Vodka. SAGE honored DJ Lina, Walter & Karen Boss and Ward Auerbach for their commitment to the Fire Island Pines community and LGBT older adults. The event hosted over 225 people and all proceeds raised went to SAGE! Thanks to our many supporters for attending -- we can't wait until next year!

June 11, 2015

Heroes of Pride: Alec Clayton

Every summer, LGBT people across the country step out during Pride season to honor who we are, celebrate the progress we’ve made, and re-energize ourselves for the battles ahead. Yet in the midst of all the revelry and marching, older people are often overlooked. This summer, SAGE is celebrating some lesser-known “Heroes of Pride” on our blog. 

AlecClayton-2014-05-01 While today’s hero, 72-year-old bisexual Alec Clayton, makes his home in Olympia, Washington, his accent reveals his southern roots. Born in Mississippi, Alec has deep experience as a community leader in the South as well as the Pacific Northwest—two very different regions that he feels connected to. Though Alec’s voice is gentle and his spirit is generous, he’s also a formidable advocate for social justice. 

Thanks for talking with me, Alec! Can you fill us in a bit on your personal story first?

I grew up in the Deep South and was closeted most of my life—in Mississippi in the 50’s and 60’s it wasn’t ok to be gay. In fact, I don’t think I came out to myself until I was in my late 20’s. My wife and I moved to Olympia Washington in 1988, and I work as a novelist and a freelance writer.

What drew you to LGBT activism?

The reason I got involved in LGBT issues is that 20 years ago last month our 17 year-old-son committed suicide after a gay bashing. He and his friends were attacked—three boys hit and kicked him. Not long after that another of his friends was also attacked for the same reason. At the time, he felt that was all he had to look forward to for the rest of his life, despite the fact that his family loved and supported him.

I’m so sorry for your loss. I wonder whether or not the pain eases over time, after a loss like that.

In a way it does. Because of that, we got involved in different LGBT organizations, and have built a new family that way.

Were you out to your son?

Yes I was. When he came out to my wife and said “mom I’m bisexual” she said “well so is your dad!”

That must have been reassuring for him to hear.

Yeah, it was. I hadn’t told him yet because it just hadn’t come up.

I think that’s so beautiful that you turned this tragedy into something so positive. That really takes courage!

We’re told that, yes. And my wife has written a story [about our son] which you can read online at gabiclayton.com.

What was the thought that motivated your activism after your son’s death?

It was about a month between his assault and his suicide. Right around that time Anna Schlecht, co-founder of SAGE Olympia, also a founder of Unity in the Community, pulled together an anti-hate rally at a local park. Our son and my wife and I spoke at the rally. And when I stepped down off the stage the president of the local PFLAG chapter asked me to speak at the father’s day meeting. So we went to the meeting, which wasn’t until after Bill died—when I agreed to speak it was before that happened—and we felt so welcome and supported there. I was president of the local chapter for 10 years, and we’re still active.

Right after it happened, my wife also wrote a story telling Bill’s story, and as a result of that we got invited to speak on television. We still do a lot [of public speaking on the subject].

What kinds of questions do kids ask you when you speak in schools?

The most common thing is, “How things have changed? Has it gotten better?”—which is a very complicated thing. The answer is usually yes and no. In many ways things have gotten better, DADT has been abolished, and [we have] gay marriage and anti-hate crime legislation. But there’s also been a lot of backlash and the reactionary forces have redoubled.

Do you feel encouraged by the current political climate?

I think so, yes. I say that with reservations because some of the more reactionary conservative forces have become so outspoken. I think they make a lot of noise, but they are a very small and vanishing group on its last legs.

What is the change you would love to see with regard to LGBT equality in your lifetime?

I’d like to see general acceptance and celebration of difference. Laws changing is good but the hearts and minds need to change. It’s happening; we see it in the younger people.

What about the older generation? What’s been your experience working with SAGE?

I see a lot of fear and confusion and loneliness. SAGE passed out surveys recently and when we were asked what we needed most, and they said social connections and activities.

It sounds like you have good community.

Yes! Olympia is a great community

Do you have family in Mississippi still? Have you been back recently?

About a year ago we went back for a reunion, which was my first time there in 17 years. It was enjoyable! It seemed like people there had come a long way in acceptance of LGBT people and of changes in the racial climate. Of course, that’s just within my relatives and friends.

That must have been comforting. You’re living in such a different community now!

Yes, it was intentional. It was such a repressive climate, in Mississippi. We lived there after we got married for 11 years and published an alternative paper and were active in progressive causes but we were in a small minority. But there was a lot of support too! Because all the progressive or liberal people tended to support each other. Now living in Olympia we feel like the whole town is in a larger bubble. But we have our share of problems here too. Just recently a cop shot two black men.

Were there demonstrations after the shooting?

Yes, there were a lot of spontaneous demonstrations. And the leadership of Unity in the Community, which I mentioned before, has been helpful. We had meetings to help calm the waters because there were some spontaneous actions both on the left and right and there’s potential for conflict.

Coming back to SAGE—how did you initially get involved? What’s new for SAGE Olympia?

I was part of the original founding group that met informally to plan, about 4 years ago. I’ve been on advisory committees and in unofficial leadership ever since. The main things we do right now are social activities including bingo, pool, a dance for elderly lesbians. We work in conjunction with a similar organization in Tacoma which isn’t too far away. In the past we’ve done film nights in conjunction with the local theater and we also do some diversity awareness trainings with different local groups, providers of healthcare, etc.

What motivates you to continue doing this work with the community?

Probably the thing that motivates me the most are my friends and my wife—the camaraderie from other people that are activists in the community. The work that we do is also our social life!

Sounds like a recipe for success!

Yes! It keeps me alive and it keeps me vibrant. 

-- Posted by Kira Garcia 

June 4, 2015

Heroes of Pride: Katherine Palmer

Every summer, LGBT people across the country step out during Pride season to honor who we are, celebrate the progress we’ve made, and re-energize ourselves for the battles ahead. Yet in the midst of all the revelry and marching, older people are often overlooked. This summer, SAGE is celebrating some lesser-known “Heroes of Pride” on our blog. 

The wide-open landscape of the southwest is home to today's hero, Katherine Palmer, a determined, energetic 73-year-old trans woman. As an LGBT activist for over 15 years, Katherine wastes no time. She's served as Board President of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado, Co-President of GenderPAC and Board President of PFLAG in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico--among many other roles. She has also lobbied for LGBT rights at both the national and state level. Perhaps most importantly for our purposes, Katherine is primarily responsible for bringing SAGE to Albuquerque, and currently serves as its Program Manager. 

KatherineThanks for talking with me, Katherine! Can you start us off with a bit of your personal story?

Well, I transitioned at age 58, in 1998.  I knew [I was trans] when I was young, hid it, and was later divorced because of it. When I retired from my career at IBM, I planned to work with Native Americans, but I decided to work with trans people instead.

Why did you decide to switch gears?

Well there was never really a term ‘transgender’ until about 1998, so I thought was only one in world. Then I went to the Gender Identity Center [GIC] and realized I wasn’t! So I got involved in that and jumped in full speed.

I wanted to reinforce that this wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I said "there’s nothing wrong with me, if you have a problem that’s your problem'. I got involved with the GIC and realized we were a minority that needed our voices heard. So I said ‘ok let’s go do it!’ I went to Washington DC and lobbied congress for ENDA.

You must’ve been so proud to do that!

Yes! I began to realize this was a national thing and I jumped in. I’m a strong believer in coalitions, I said, we can’t do this alone, we have to do this with others. I have also been very involved with PFLAG, which is wonderful because you have parents, family, friends and trans people, lesbians and gay men all in the same room!

What's so powerful about coalition building?

The thing that frustrates me within the LGBT community is that it's so localized.  I thought 'can’t we all work together?' and then I found SAGE and I said 'oooh! Here we go!'

Because everyone gets old! Aging is universal. 

Yes!

How did you start a SAGE chapter?

I contacted SAGE national and put together a committee. Our biggest problem is that we don’t have a physical space. So we went to Albuquerque Senior Services, and said ‘we’d like to have an LGBT presence here’ and they said ‘sure’. Albuquerque is unique. We passed a non-discrimination law in '03. We came within one vote of same sex marriage about 5 years before we got it nationally. 

So is your message or your goal primarily about tolerance, or something more?

No, it’s something more. My goal with PFLAG and SAGE is to get to a point where we don’t need it, because we’re treated like everyone else. I go to a statewide aging conference every year on behalf of SAGE, and I’m trans and I’m not "stealth”, but no one gives me any hassles, I’m just Katherine. 

It sounds your experience since coming out has been pretty positive.

Yes!

So you’re working on behalf of others who haven’t had it so easy is that right?

Yes, I see other people being abused or discriminated against and I just can't take that. I’m a firm believer that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. You teach, they learn, and the problem goes away. I'm not intimidated by them. My partner says, 'you go into the grocery store for a can of peas and these people are looking at you and you’re oblivious!' I have to remember sometimes that I’m trans.

What’s coming up for SAGE Albuquerque?

We have a golf tournament coming up in September. We’ve never done one out here, it’s a fundraiser for SAGE; we'll be offering prizes and awards. And then the aging conference is coming up this year, our topic will be LGBT older people and providers working together. We’re still growing and trying to find the LGBT seniors with strong support from the entire LGBTQ community.

So working with providers could really help you boost participation.

Yes! New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the country but we’re less than two million people in total, and half are in Albuquerque. Some people drive 30 miles to get to us. It’s not a very large group but it’s dedicated. Over the last 3 months, and our monthly meetings have all been new people—so something’s happening, the word’s getting out!

--Posted by Kira Garcia

October 24, 2013

LGBT History Month: Love in a Meat Truck

In honor of LGBT History Month, SAGE shares stories from our constituents. Watch them explain their experiences in the past and how it shaped their future.

This week, David Singh, shares his story about finding love in Chelsea—back when gay bars and Grindr were not de riguer.

October 18, 2013

LGBT History Month: Spotlight on Seniors

In honor of LGBT History Month, SAGE shares stories from our constituents. Watch them explain their experiences in the past and how it shaped their future.

This week, Jerry Hoose, shares his story about being a Stonewall Veteran and the first Pride March in New York City.

July 3, 2013

Chicago Pride Parade & SAGENet Pride

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

Chicago PrideThis last Sunday, my partner, Terri Griffith, and I had the opportunity to ride on the AARP Illinois trolley in the Chicago Pride Parade with folks from SAGE Center on Halsted, Affinity Community Services, and AARP. Like many Pride celebrations, Chicago had a record breaking turnout—over a million!

Being in the parade, rather than viewing it from the sidelines, gave me a chance to see block after block after block of the massive crowds. Everyone had a huge smile on their face and tons of enthusiasm for everything. I was amazed by the sheer density.  At first, everyone was just a big blur of rainbow colors and lot of skin, but a few minutes into the parade, I found myself getting quiet and really just looking at them looking at us. There were so many people who got truly, genuinely excited when they realized our trolley was full of LGBT elders. People screamed, shouted encouraging things, blew kisses, and generally made a fuss. There is no experience like basking (albeit secondhand) in the approval that LGBT older adults get from a Pride Parade crowd. One of my favorite moments was passing Center on Halsted. The Center has an annual Senior Pride Viewing Party in the John Baran Senior Center—which overlooks the parade route. From our trolley, we could see all of the SAGE Center on Halsted constituents packed against the windows waving enthusiastically at us.

People loved that AARP was the sponsor. Our excellent host, AARP Associate State Director, Terri Worman, would periodically hold up her AARP card in one hand and give the crowd the thumbs up sign with the other. This never failed to generate smiles and laughs of recognition. More than once I saw someone turn to whoever was standing next to them and, from the looks of it say, “I’m in AARP!” I’m no lip reader but I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying. Many thanks to Terri and her partner Paula Basta for making sure everyone was warmly welcomed, provided with AARP t-shirts and rainbow swag, and given lots water and snacks.

Watch us roll by in this video from Windy City Times


Check out a few Pride pics from our SAGENet affiliates around the country!

June 19, 2013

La Voz Latina de SAGE: PRIDE

¡Vea el nuevo episodio de "La Voz Latina de SAGE" y aprenda sobre Pride (orgullo LGBT)!

June 11, 2013

SAGE Pride Across the Country!

SAGE is celebrating Pride all month throughout New York City, but we can't forget our SAGENet affiliates all around the country! Here are some highlights from our affiliates' Pride events this month.

PortlandSAGE Metro Portland will be celebrating Pride this weekend! They will be featuring two members who are celebrating 60+ years together and who are instrumental in the community. In partnership with the Portland Primetimers and LOCA (Lesbians of a Certain Age), they will host the Senior Tent at Pride Festival. Stop by the tent to learn about resources for LGBT older adults and each of the partnering programs. They will also have a place for you to sit and take a rest from the festival. On Sunday June 16, SAGE Metro Portland will be marching in the parade and invite all LGBT older adults and allies to join us.

SAGE Philadelphia just celebrated their Pride this past weekend! SAGE Philadelphia provided a presentation on LGBT older adult housing for a local Black Pride organization and distributed brochures for the John C. Anderson Apartments during the Pride parade.

Sageutahzone
SAGE Utah Pride Zone

Out in Utah, Pride festivities happened a few weeks ago with a huge parade and SAGE Utah had a large presence. SAGE Utah also set up a SAGE Zone for folks to rest, relax and “embrace the SAGE within.”

SAGE Center on Halsted constituents and individuals with disabilities are invited to view Chicago's June 30 Pride parade at the John Baran Senior Center at the Center on Halsted. This annual event is extremely popular with SAGE folks who might not be able to enjoy the parade otherwise.

Tulsa
SAGE Tulsa's Toby Jenkins in front of new Pride Exhibit
SAGE Tulsa also celebrated Pride earlier in the month! The Oklahoma Equality Center hosted a SAGE Tulsa Zone during their Pride Festival. Spectators got prime seating with a view of the parade from the Oklahoma Equality Center.

 

Want to learn more about our SAGENet affiliates and what they're doing for Pride? Visit our SAGENet page.

May 29, 2013

Almost Here... Pride!

The end of May is especially busy for SAGE as we begin to prepare for June—Pride Month! This year, we are excited to be participating in a number of activities all over New York City and with our SAGENet affiliates throughout the country. We'll also be keeping a close watch on the Supreme Court decisions regarding DOMA and Prop 8 (likely to be announced in June), especially with plaintiff Edie Windsor serving as one of the grand marshals of this year's NYC Pride parade. Be sure to sign up for e-mail updates and be the first to find out more about SAGE Pride and any news from the court!