22 posts categorized "SAGE Story"

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.

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks a Little Early

Coming up on Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a story from one of our fantastic Case Managers, Larry Gile.  Larry currently has about forty-five clients that he works with on a regular basis and we share one of his stories below. We also wanted to share with you a note we got from Nancy on our website. We are thankful for our staff, board, clients, LGBT older adults and all who look to SAGE for help. Happy Thanksgiving!

Larry_gile
SAGE Case Manager, Larry Gile

We try to have all of our clients have a happy results--of course, that isn't always the case. However, the story I have to tell has a good ending, one that I think is perfect for the holiday season. Our clients' names have been changed for their confidentiality.

Stan is an 87-year old native of Maryland who has led a life of entertainment. He was a singer, musician, the author of numerous children's books and a worked on an Oscar-award winning film (in an age of IMDB, we'll keep the film name to ourselves). His caregiver and partner, Irwin, is originally from Alabama and worked in book publishing. Irwin is 75-years old.

About five years ago, Stan began showing symptoms of cognitive impairment, accompanied by increasing frailty and became a regular client of SAGE. We worked with both Stan and Irwin to arrange for God's Love We Deliver and home health aides in order to help them both. Recently, Stan experienced a series of falls in his home which made it clear to both to him and his partner that a long-term nursing home placement would be the safest and most logical next step in his life.

Nursing home placement can be difficult--especially when the financial situation is tight. SAGE's Case Manager, Larry Gile, helped Stan prepare and submit applications for five nursing homes as well as collecting the extensive personal and financial records needed to apply for nursing home Medicaid. Unfortunately, Larry didn't hear anything favorable from the homes for Stan. Deciding a visit was in order, Larry went to Stan's top choice in person to see if there was anything he could do to facilitate Stan's admission.

Larry introduced himself to the nursing home's brand new Director of Admitting and told him Stan's story and circumstances. The Director took an interest in Stan's case after hearing about his hardships in person and several days later, SAGE received notice that a bed was available for Stan!

Stan moved in a week later and was comfortable in his new situation. Miraculously, two weeks later, he was moved into a private room! This allows him more privacy and a chance to make the room his actual home. He is now flourishing in his new home and getting the care he needs. His partner Irwin is able to better take care of himself as the needs of his partner are being met. Larry is still in contact with the couple and reports that both are doing great!

A Note From Nancy

3791122SAGE received this email from our website feedback form and wanted to share this with our community. We are proud to be serving people like Nancy, who may not have access to the local services we provide in New York and those our affiliates provide around the country.

I am very grateful for this site because, living in a senior community made up of a majority of very conservative residents, it is one place I can visit to feel connected to my "larger community" and LGBT activities. I made clear to the administration here, before moving in nearly 3 years ago, that I am Lesbian. I was assured that I was fully accepted. I neither flaunt or hide my identity but have not found but one, straight, resident to whom I can confide. It gets lonely sometimes. Fortunately, my Episcopal church is is very open and accepting...my home away from home! Thank you for all the stories and features on this site which so enrich my and the lives of many others!

November 25, 2013

Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!

Bannerflyer
You came. You read. You voted. 

Many thanks to all who participated in our SAGE Story contest—both in sharing their story and voting! We are pleased to announce that Kimberly Burnham, PhD is our winner! Kimberly, is a 56-year-old lesbian who bicycled 3000+ miles across America on the 2013 Hazon Cross USA. She wrote a poem about her experience that resonated with our voters and won a $50 Amazon giftcard and bragging rights for winning our first-ever national contest!

Read her poem below or check it out the full SAGE Story site with all of our finalists and more stories. Inspired? Share your story! We would love to hear from you.

Continue reading "Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!" »

November 21, 2013

SAGE Story Contest: Voting Ends Tomorrow!

Fb2We are so proud to have received numerous stories for our SAGE Story Contest! We asked the question: "What does 'community' mean to you? How do you stay connected to the people who matter most to you?" and got inspiring responses. Four of our finalists are now up on our site and we need your help deciding the winner.

Our four finalists share tales of strength, resilience, love, friendship and caregiving. We are honored that they chose to tell their stories to the world.

Visit our voting page, check out the four stories and pick your favorite! You have until tomorrow, Friday, November 22, 5 pm EST to decide. Contest results will be up on Monday, so be sure to check back!

November 12, 2013

Voting is Open! Choose your favorite SAGE Story

SAGE recently asked LGBT older people to tell us about their experiences with isolation, and/or how they build community in ways both large and small. We got wonderful stories from all across the country. It was tough to choose, but we narrowed it down to four finalists. Here are some excerpts from their stories. Vote for your favorite today! 

Story #1 is a poem from a 56-year-old woman who rode her bike from Seattle to Washington DC; part of the poem says:

My bicycle marked with symbols
my choice, a rainbow flag
a blue square with parallel yellow rectangles
the equality sign of the Human Rights Campaign
I am riding out in rural America
Okay, I'll give you I am a little scared
it's a little daunting to think
I might be the target of hate
but proud of my choices
and this country in which
I can choose whom to love
and wear a giant yellow and blue equals sign
on my back knowing
some people will recognize
I am a lesbian

SAGE Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Outin2013Story #2 comes from a woman who met the love of her life in 1958—and together, the just came out this year. She says, “…every challenge we faced and succeeded in getting through made our love deeper and stronger. Believe it or not, I would do it all over again—even without any changes. Our love has stood the test of time. Today we have given ourselves permission to enjoy “our time,” and every moment is a precious blessing. We are too old to pretend.”

CAbuddhistThe next story weaves together themes of gratitude, contemplation, environmentalism, and fitness, tied together with community-building. Storyteller #3 says, “Abused and neglected as a child, I hobbled into adulthood. For the past 35 years, engaging in self-nurturing, esteem-building and, paramountly, extreme self-care has been my Brigadoon, my Shangri-La. Seeking to cultivate warm-heartedness, calmness, patience, forgiveness and sensitivity within myself, I have surrounded myself with conscious, awake people who reflect those health-giving values.”

GettyImages_78032771Finally, there comes a story familiar to many: the story of a caregiver doing his best to make sure his partner is happy and comfortable in the final years of his life. Contender #4 writes, “…I'm an amateur at dealing with the end of life. By comparison, we all could probably embrace our amateur status and just say it's nothing unique, that it goes with the territory of living and that when we see the light start to dim in the eyes of the love of our life, our emotions are going to tell us we're bungling the job even when we know we're giving ourselves 100% to the work whether we're good at it or not. I don't have a social life. I don't have family or friends nearby. I just have this guy who still makes my heart flutter and I want to keep the love coming.”

Read the full stories here, and then vote for your favorite story! And remember to share the link with your friends. Each visitor gets one vote, and voting closes on November 22.

 

October 29, 2013

LGBT History Month: Rosita's Story

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.

Rosita Libre de Marulanda, an immigrant from Colombia, South America, is a lesbian widow after 18 years with her partner, mother of three lovely and smart daughters, grandmother to seven grandchildren and one cat.  In this video, she talks about all of these different facets of her life, how they affect her in her later years and the importance of SAGE. 

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.

October 15, 2013

SAGE Launches 1st National Storytelling Contest

SAGEStory_Facebook_GraphicWe know that LGBT older people have spent their lives building their own families and communities—the relationships that sustain us. Yet as we age, more and more of us begin to feel less connected.

But you can take the first step toward forging new connections by sharing your experiences with others. SAGE is now seeking stories for a nationwide contest that focus on how LGBT older people combat and conquer isolation, building the support systems they need to age well.

We want to know more about your family, friends, community, and what they mean to you. We want to know about a time when you may have felt alone but found a connection that sustained you. Or maybe a time when you built a circle of support for yourself or for someone else in need. Tell us:

What does “community” mean to you? How do you stay connected to the people who matter most to you?

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card and bragging rights!
October 10, 2013

The Power of Stories

Today’s post is by Nayoung Woo, who was placed at SAGE in spring 2013 through the Coro Fellows Program. She interviewed a number of LGBT couples for a SAGE Story marriage equality project. Nayoung’s experience illustrates the power of stories to move people on important issues. We hope after reading her story, you’re inspired to share your own—and now’s the perfect time to do it. SAGE has launched a nationwide contest to gather stories that relate how LGBT older people combat and conquer isolation, building the support systems we all need to age well. Enter today!

On my first day at SAGE, I ran into Pat and Barbara. An hour later, I found that they had so captivated my attention and imagination with the story about how they had met that I was squatting on the floor with a painful case of pins and needles in both feet.  

At one point in the conversation, Barbara asked me how old I was, and when I answered, “23,”she pointed at her shoes and said, “My shoes are older than you!" Everyone within hearing distance at The SAGE Center cracked up. That is the memory of SAGE that I will carry with me: of people who lived through magical relationships, both told and untold, and embraced all aspects of their identities, from being LGBT to being older.

But I also know that implied in that rose-colored memory are the pains of a collective that has fought for basic human rights for almost a lifetime, and even after that. For the sake of the legacy they have left me, where I can freely use the words "my partner" without fear of physical harm or legal offense, I will not only remember, but also take action.

Linda_cathy1
Lynne & Cathy

For example, as a Christian, even though I had been an LGBT activist for a while, I had gone back and forth on the notion of same-sex marriage. I would see friends who would, and already do, make the best of spouses and parents, but the Word of God would always stare at me point blank in the face. But one day in April, I took a phone call interview for SAGE, and sobbed through almost an entire hour along with the interviewee, Lynne. She recalled for me the recent experience of losing her partner, and then losing most of the belongings and savings they had gathered together because federal law did not (yet) recognize their decades-long relationship.

After that phone call, I had to change how I thought about basic human rights: no God would have wanted such unfair and unnecessary suffering. When Section 3 of DOMA was eventually repealed in June, I celebrated full-heartedly, for the first time without any guilt from my faith, and I leveraged my conversation to educate and convince other Christians about the importance of legal, and perhaps in the future clerical, recognition of same-sex unions.

In small ways, I took action on my own belief system and of those around me for the sake of the pains that I learned about just by being around SAGE constituents. Now I can no longer consider marriage equality or other LGBT aging issues as contrary or irrelevant to me.

My hope is that I continue to collect valuable stories about a population that has, arguably, some of the richest stories to tell, and that one day I will no longer hear from the interviewees a short pause, a slight sigh, possibly accompanied with a forced grin, saying, "It is how it is," and "What can you do?" Rather, I want to hear more thundering and laughing, much as Barbara had done when she told me how she met Pat, because all their wisdom, survival, courage (and knitting) should be held with great respect.

Nayoung Woo served SAGE as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs and is currently a Master's in Public Health Candidate at Columbia University.