29 posts categorized "SAGE Story"

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.

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.

October 3, 2013

SAGE Story: Bringing LGBT Elder Stories to Life

Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. Follow him on Twitter.

Those moments when you share a personal story that you've held for years—and the listener connects beyond the intellectual—become gems. You remember them forever. Perhaps you open up about a long-held secret. Or you craft a story to revisit a grievance, impart how someone affected you for years, and ask for forgiveness or atonement. You recall a better track you once took—and why. You honor those special people in your life through a vignette; someone hears it and learns to move on.

Our stories connect us to our past and to our loved ones. We cannot transform the decision-makers of our world unless we recount what shaped our own tiny worlds.

SAGEStory_blogPostThe power of storytelling serves as the premise for SAGE Story, our acclaimed national digital storytelling program for LGBT older people. We have learned that a story can personify a complex policy issue and make it relatable. It dramatizes the human consequences of policy decisions, lifelong economic hardship or an incident of discrimination. And when people share their stories—in person or online—they come to terms with those memories and the process serves as catharsis. Those who hear the stories, in turn, grow more empathetic.

A colleague once remarked that our histories as LGBT people have so often been shaped by others—revised, ignored or erased—that we forget the importance of crafting our own stories.

Continue reading "SAGE Story: Bringing LGBT Elder Stories to Life" »

July 26, 2013

The Personal is Political: Eleanor’s Story

In honor of the 23rd Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, SAGE is pleased to share Eleanor Smith's story. Eleanor is the founder of Concrete Change, a disability rights organization in Decatur, GA. This is an excerpt of a speech she gave at SAGE’s LGBT Elder Institute, held in Atlanta, on January 24, 2013. Visit SAGE Story to listen to her full presentation.

Eleanor Smith
(image from Measure up the North
At my one of my first disability rights actions, in Washington DC about 30 years ago, as I was marching along in my wheelchair with a few hundred  others, a fellow marcher pulled up beside me in his power wheelchair and said, “Are you one of those old time dykes?”  I laughed and answered affirmatively. He could probably tell by the flannel shirt.  Later I got to know Eric better, and I learned from him that he was a female to male trans person. What a lot of guts he was showing back then in the 1980s to be a severely mobility-impaired person who also changed his gender. Back then Eric and I were young people with disabilities. Now we’re old people with disabilities. Today I’m going to talk about the intersection of aging and disability and the wisdom of older gays and people with disabilities working more closely together.


I have noticed how old people and their organizations and younger disabled people and their organizations often work quite separately from each other, and are unaware of each others’ work.  This is the case even though many of the same issues affect both groups.

We have been taught over the years to realize that all oppressions operate in similar ways. Ageism and ableism are even more closely intertwined that most oppressions. For instance, both older people and disabled people are often devalued because our bodies or minds deviate from the norm by being—or perceived as being—weaker and less functional.   And the physical attributes of both old people and people with disabilities of all ages are considered by many to be ugly, or grotesque. So we all need to be liberated to see old or disabled bodies as beautiful in their own way.

Continue reading "The Personal is Political: Eleanor’s Story " »

July 19, 2013

The Importance of Visitation Rights

Charles_douglas2On June 28, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a “reminder” to State Survey Agency Directors about access and visitation rights in long-term care (LTC) facilities.

The gist of the memo was to clarify that the 24-hour access and visitation rights residents already have include access and visitation by same-sex spouses and same-sex domestic partners. As the memo stated, “Residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, who could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.” (Emphasis added.)

Denial of visitation rights to same-sex spouses and same-sex domestic partners is still a sad reality for many LGBT older people. The story of Charles and Douglas, found below, illustrates this point. (Note: while the CMS memo refers to LTC facilities, and Charles and Douglas’ story took place in a hospital, the underlying theme is the same, an utter lack of respect for a same-sex couple’s relationship by the people who should have been supporting them.)

By reiterating resident rights concerning access and visitation, CMS has sent a strong message not only to those who run LTC facilities but also to LGBT older adults, their family members, and friends that LGBT older adults and their loved ones must simply be treated the same as everyone else.   

Charles and Douglas’ Story

Like newlyweds the world over, Charles and Douglas were flying high on their return trip to Salt Lake City following their joyous marriage celebration in New York City in 2011. Hand in hand, they were still glowing after the ceremony that sealed the bond of their 12-year relationship. But onboard the flight back to Utah, a sobering thought began to sink in for Charles—the sad recognition that marriage equality was still something that existed only in a few states. He pulled aside a flight attendant and asked, “Will you let us know when we cross over into Pennsylvania? Because after that, we are no longer legal.”

Continue reading "The Importance of Visitation Rights" »