5 posts categorized "SAGE Harlem"

March 27, 2014

SAGE Harlem Elders Respond to ATLAH's Hateful Sign

In response to the recent church sign posted by the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem, New York City, SAGE recently asked its LGBT elder constituents that take part in its SAGE Harlem program to reimagine a more welcoming sign for the community.

We asked them: “What alternative message should Pastor Manning have placed on this sign to make it welcoming to all Harlem residents, including its LGBT members?" Below are their responses. Feel free to share your response in our comments section!

 

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Michael Johnson

 

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Carol Demech

 

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Tari Stubblefield

 

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Shelly Montrose

 

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Shelia Bligen & Barbara Chamber

 

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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

February 18, 2014

George Stewart: A Champion of Change for Black History Month

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.

George_headshot2 (1)George Stewart, 82 years old, has led a life full of change and surprises. He served in the Army, both in the U.S. and overseas, was a hospital aide during the AIDS crisis in the 80's and surprisingly became an out-LGBT spokesperson when he was an honored speaker at The SAGE Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2012. These are his words.

In celebration of Black History Month, I would like to honor my heroes. Right now, they are President Obama, and, of course, Nelson Mandela. They made history in their movements and they have accomplished a lot of things that we, as African Americans, never thought would be done. Especially Mandela, who suffered in prison and left without being angry and just completed the job he set out to do. His passing was a blow to me, but the way the world united in honoring him was inspiring. President Obama's speech at the ceremony was truly moving and he, making history as the first African American president of the United States, is another man that I think our community can emulate. Those  men are my heroes. 

I would like to say that my life two years ago was very different. You could say SAGE outed me! I wouldn't say I was closeted at the time, but looking back, I suppose I was. Since I was one of the speakers at The SAGE Center grand opening, I received a lot of media attention. I had a brief interview with NY1 and that was it! Some of my neighbors saw me on television and I was willingly outed. My life is 100% more interesting! I feel much more free in my thinking and what I enjoy. I really feel like I'm being myself. I've lost a couple of friends, but that's their problem, not mine. I've gained more friends than I've lost - that's a plus! I also have a job, people who rely on me and care about my opinions, so I am pretty happy right now.

Looking back at the past two (out) years of my life, what really stands out for me was my trip to Washington, D.C. Through SAGE, I submitted my story to the White House LGBT Champions of Change contest, and was a finalist! Me and a couple of SAGE staffers traveled to D.C. for the ceremony and it was wonderful. I was on a panel with some extraordinary people who were all doing work for the LGBT movement. It was a great experience and I met so many wonderful people. I honestely didn't realize how big the movement was until I was on that panel and learned about what they were all doing around the country! All of the other Champions of Change, along with groups like PFLAG and AVER...I didn't realize all of those people were working for the same cause - LGBT rights and equality.

I've been motivated to work for this cause because of SAGE.  I believe everyone should be happy in what they want to do in their lives. I myself have become more open-minded and free because of learning more about the LGBT community. I would like to see this country be more tolerant of other peoples' lifestyles -- especially, for me, the black church. I love my church. I sing in the choir and we have a wonderful congregation. However, the belief system that is engrained is very homophobic. The best way to fight the homophobia is to stay in the church and be a positive presence -- because God loves us all. 

Watch George's winning White House Champion of Change video below.

February 11, 2014

Four Amazing Women of Color Share Their Stories

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!


FrancesFrances, 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 Bushong2Helena, 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.

February 4, 2014

SAGE Celebrates Black History Month

February, in addition to being LGBT History Month in the U.K., is African American History Month. SAGE will be celebrating with a variety of programs designed by The SAGE Center and our SAGE Harlem teams. We will also be highlighting the stories of our SAGE members from around the country in the next few weeks, so be sure to bookmark the SAGE Blog and visit often!

Patricia_fraserThe following post was written by Patricia Fraser-Morales, SAGE Harlem Program Assistant.

SAGE Harlem is working on some exciting offerings to commemorate Black History Month. Our staff and volunteers have created an art exhibition on the walls of the Harlem Center to showcase the diverse talents of our constituents. This begins an initiative we hope to continue all year long, with revolving art pieces and poetry selections to illustrate our chosen theme: “Life in Harlem.”

 To keep consistent with the arts theme, SAGE Harlem is collaborating this month with the Romare Bearden Foundation, located on the second floor of the historic Hotel Theresa Building.  We will be offering small group tours of the Bearden archive, which features art pieces, writings, and other memorabilia of the famous artist. 

More Black History Month Events:

All of SAGE has been invited to attend a special afternoon screening of The New Black at the Film Forum. The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. SAGE is planning to have a Q&A with the creators of the film at a later date.

SAGE Harlem is offering multiple screenings of the classic Paris is Burning at the Harlem Center.  On February 18, there will be a presentation on the history of the ballroom scene given by scholar/activist Michael Roberson, who is the Father of the House of Garcon.

Harlem Nights_piece by Harlem Constituent Frances Gordon
Harlem Nights, painted by SAGE Harlem Constituent, Francis Gordon

Our regular programming for the month includes all support groups and activities:

  • Women’s 40+ Support Group on Friday, February 7
  • Latino Men’s Group on Tuesday, February 11
  • Men’s 50+ Support on Friday, February 14
  • Grief Group on Saturdays, February 8 & 15
  • New Beginnings every Tuesday afternoon
  • AA Meditation every Monday night
  • Spirituality Group on the 2nd and 4th Mondays
  • Buddy to Buddy on Thursday, February 20

The H.E.A.T. Meeting and Social Hour on Friday, February 21st, and Fabulous Friday on Friday, February 28th round out the month-long celebrations.  Please “like” us on Facebook, and check out the website for more information on dates, times and more offerings.

 

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