11 posts categorized "SAGEMatters"

November 14, 2016

SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

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SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

As we share the latest SAGEMatters with you, we are living through a period of unprecedented change. Perhaps nothing reminds us of this more sharply than this year’s high-stakes elections, which have turned long-standing political and social assumptions on their heads.

This theme of change runs powerfully through the features in this issue of SAGEMatters. Inside, you’ll find George Takei’s take on personal evolution; learn how Jeffrey Erdman has taken the LA leather scene by storm in his 50s; and follow an inspiring conversation with Kate Kendell, Mara Keisling and Carmen Vazquez about the changing landscape of gender identity. You’ll also learn how the federal government (after a lot of pushing by SAGE) is moving to transform publicly-funded aging services to make them more LGBT-friendly. Join us in celebrating the realization of a decades-long dream for our communities in New York City, as SAGE announces the construction of the first two LGBTfriendly elder housing communities in the Big Apple. And so much more.

This time of great change and evolution sets the stage for the launch of SAGE’s new strategic plan. The overriding goal of the plan is to dramatically expand the impact of SAGE’s work so that LGBT people can grow older with boundless opportunities for growth and enrichment. We believe that we can achieve this transformative vision by tapping into our legacy of “taking care of our own,” by building ties across generations, by encouraging communities to become LGBT age-friendly and by convincing partners of all kinds to get involved. This issue of SAGEMatters includes a special feature on our new plan—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are.

For me, all of this has a special personal significance as I celebrate my 10th anniversary at the helm of this amazing organization. I’m so proud of the great progress that we have made together on behalf of our LGBT elder pioneers. And I’m tremendously passionate about the next chapter of SAGE’s work.

I know that as you read through this latest SAGEMatters it will be even clearer to you why SAGE’s efforts matter more than ever. Let’s keep working together so that all LGBT elders have the support they need to live lives of boundless opportunity.

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the biannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the expanded Fall 2016 issue here.

July 7, 2016

Why We Fight

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters.

The Supreme Court validated the relationships of LGBT people across the nation in 2015 when it handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Plaintiff Jim Obergefell took the time to speak with us about his experience in this history-making moment.

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Image: Emma Parker Photography


SAGE: How did you feel at the moment the Supreme Court decision came down? Can you describe it?

Jim Obergefell: When Justice Kennedy read our case number, I grabbed the hands of friends sitting on either side of me and listened intently. The first few sentences were a roller coaster of emotions, as I thought “we won”—followed closely by doubt. When it became clear that we had indeed won, I burst into tears and cried throughout the rest of his decision. I felt a mixture of sadness, joy, and satisfaction. Sadness, of course, because John wasn’t there to experience the win with me. It was impossible not to feel joy at that moment! Here was the highest court in the land saying that John and I—and couples like us—exist and are just as valid as any other couple. I also had a sense of satisfaction because I’d lived up to my promises to love, honor and protect John. It was a bittersweet day, but definitely more sweet than bitter.

SAGE: Caring for a terminally-ill partner requires profound physical and emotional strength. You’ve said that John gave you “the strength to do this.” How did family, friends and community reinforce that strength?

JO: I know I had moments when I was completely exhausted, emotionally and physically, but I always thought back to John and the fact that I was fighting for him, our marriage, and people across the country. I found that no matter how busy I was, I was energized by meeting people, talking about John, and speaking out for equality. My family and friends worried about me, but they understood how important it was, and they could also see how passionate I was about what I was doing. They also kept me grounded and sane by checking in with me and, more importantly, making time for me whenever I was home in Cincinnati. It’s impossible not to be energized when strangers stop me to say thank you, tell me stories, or share why my fight mattered to them.

SAGE: In winning a battle for you and John, you won something for all of us. Have you met any older—“SAGE age”—couples who’ve tied the knot since this summer’s Supreme Court victory? How have they inspired you?

JO: I have, and quite a few! I remember how frequently people were surprised by how long John and I were together, so I’ve loved meeting couples who have been together as long or longer. There’s been such a look of joy and contentment on their faces, and I can’t imagine a better thank you. I know how meaningful getting married was for John and me after twenty years together, so I understand a bit of how they feel. Every time a couple tells me they’ve finally married after being together for so long—or that their marriage is now recognized in all 50 states—I’m humbled to be part of that.

SAGE: In remarks following the decision, you shared your hope that the ruling would decrease LGBT stigma and discrimination. You also acknowledged the crisis in Charleston, saying we must continue to fight as “progress for some is not progress for all.” What issues do you hope to address in the coming year?

JO: Our country still hasn’t lived up to the promise of equality that’s part of our shared American identity, and my experience fighting for marriage equality has inspired me to continue being involved until we do. I’ll be working toward passage of the Equality Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity in federal non-discrimination protections. I’ll continue to speak out on behalf of our transgender brothers and sisters and lend my time and energy toward gaining much-needed protections for them. I also plan to become more involved with fighting homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Read about Jim Obergefell and other LGBT trailblazers in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters. Download our Talk Before You Walk toolkit and infographics to learn how marriage equality affects your finances. Sign up for monthly email updates at sageusa.org/subscribe.

May 31, 2016

Connecting Across Generations

By Timothy Wroten

Jay Kallio gained nationwide visibility in 2012 when he shared his story about navigating the healthcare system as a transgender man living with breast cancer. Now in the midst of a new battle, Jay talks about how a younger community of activists has connected him to newfound strength and courage.

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Photo Credit: Rosa Goldensohn/DNAinfo.com

Timothy Wroten: Earlier this year, you were diagnosed with a new condition: terminal lung cancer. Many of us would have given up. Where were you at this point?

Jay Kallio: Most terminal cancer patients go through a process called “purging” where they start giving away their possessions. I found myself doing the same thing through the “Queer Exchange” Facebook group. When folks came to pick up my castaways, I brought them downstairs because I was ashamed of my apartment’s terrible condition. I live in pub•lic housing, which entails a lot of delayed re•pairs and maintenance. I didn’t have money to do repairs myself like I used to. One of the people, Ella Grasch, was concerned and questioned me in detail about the apartment. I described how the bathroom ceiling was going to fall, that lights were out, fixtures had short-circuited, and that the plumbing was backed up—numerous problems.

TW: How did Ella and other young activists you met through Queer Exchange help you get what you needed?

JK: Despite being trained in activism, I was too sick to advocate for my own needs. They got to work and generated networks, resources, and money. Ella knew a wonderful woman named Brianne Huntsman who set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. She works in social media marketing, so she had the skills to do it right. They raised money to repair my apartment and also to pay for some healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. People started to send in money, $10, $50, $100, $500…it was an enormous help. I couldn’t manage navigating the bureaucracy of my housing authority, either. I was overwhelmed by the bare minimum I needed to do to survive. Several young people be•came involved: social workers, someone who works in the mayor’s office, and others. They started making phone calls for me, knowing whom to call and how to get things done. My plumbing problems were soon taken care of. Slowly, many things improved.

TW: You said that meeting younger activists from around the country through Queer Exchange and GoFundMe fueled you to generate yet another bout of activist energy. Tell us about the campaign they helped you fight against your insurance company.

JK: My insurance company refused to cover an experimental cancer treatment—immunotherapy—because it cost too much. It was my only hope for remission. A number of younger activists got involved with my own organizing efforts. First, they joined me at this summer’s Pride March. It was amazing to see the older gener•ation of “ACT-UPers” pushing me in a wheelchair, alongside younger LGBT and health care advocates. Taking the money raised, we planned a rally in front of the insurance company. We videotaped it so we could do an online campaign. We used so many different campaign tactics including street theater, online petitions, and a Twitter war against the insurance HMO. We contacted politicians’ offices, which also added pressure. As we started the rally, one of the executives of the insurance company came to us and said, “Have you talked to your doctor yet this morning?” My doctor had already been e-mailed with an approval for my immunotherapy treatment. They had done a 180 on a life-saving treatment that had previously been denied. It’s because younger activists got involved and gave me a big shot in the arm that I can fight for myself again.

TW: In spite of this battle and other health concerns, your rebel heart still beats strong. How have you helped SAGE and other communities fight for better care and equity?

JK: I have worked with SAGE a lot on LGBT cultural competency and healthcare. I am writing chapters for a guidebook to help healthcare professionals better understand the needs of LGBT cancer patients. I have also presented at a few conferences to advance palliative care funding. I’m getting an awful lot done that will not only help LGBT cancer patients, but also Medicaid recipients and cancer patients across the board.

TW: How can young people join in this fight?

JK: After meeting so many young LGBT activists this year, I’ve said, “If you liked doing this with me, why don’t you consider volunteering with SAGE? We need your help. Beyond pushing us in the wheelchair at the next march, we need you to work with us on advocacy!” The fight goes beyond about being gay. It’s about supporting anyone who may be gay and vulnerable, which includes those who are also young, old, of color, or poor. We need cross-generational community and support for years to come. With our mutual vulnerability, we also share strengths to remedy that vulnerability. Activism works. Get involved.

Read about Jay Kallio and other LGBT trailblazers in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters. May is Older Americans Month. Connect on social media with #OAM16.

May 12, 2016

Older and Bolder: Starting a second or third chapter? Think big!

The 2016 theme of Older Americans Month is "Blaze a Trail" and we can't imagine a better way to celebrate then honoring the achievements of our LGBT elders. Stay tuned for a series of blog posts on SAGE's trailblazers throughout the month and follow the conversation at #OAM.

We’re taught that most people spend their retirement years baking cookies, tinkering in the garage, and playing dominoes. But a new generation of LGBT older people is thinking bigger and bolder. Fueled by increasing life expectancy many are now calling a “longevity bonus,” they are creating new narratives about what it means to be “SAGE age.” 


BrendaCullaneBRENDA CULHANE
is passionate about her pursuits. She’s a 75-year-old lesbian activist and SAGE constituent living in Portland, Oregon. Brenda plays a powerful role on a local housing committee in Portland and advocates for LGBT needs in assisted and independent living communities. She notes that “We’ve all had friends who have had to go into [these facilities] and do not feel safe coming out in that environment. It’s so sad.”

Brenda’s work doesn’t stop there, though—she also speaks about LGBT issues at civic events and local colleges. Students often want to know how and when Brenda came out, and what her parents thought. She responds with patience and honesty, and values the chance to turn her own life experience into a teachable moment.

 

 

Bruce_067sAdvocacy has also defined 68-year-old BRUCE WILLIAMS’ second chapter. His life changed dramatically in 2006 when he was fired from his longtime role as the executive director of a retirement community in Texas. Looking back, Bruce believes he was terminated because of his sexuality. It was a terrible blow, but he still remembers the work fondly. “I had the luxury of watching people go through the last third of their lives,” he recalls. “I saw commonalities and individualities, and the choices they made. Some were good, some were bad, some were frighteningly ugly.”

When Bruce relocated with his partner to South Florida in 2013, he began volunteering at the Pride Center at Equality Park. Given his background, he gravitated toward the issue of long-term care and reached out to local providers to find out which ones were LGBT friendly. After a rocky start and a lot of rejection, he hosted a small LGBT community health fair. Fast forward to 2015, and Bruce is now preparing for his sixth event as the Pride Center’s Senior Services Coordinator. He remarks that the Pride Center “wanted me to come to work as a gay man—that was the first time in 65 years that had happened!” He’s thrilled to be making an impact with his work, and has plans to do more. “No one’s written a guidebook for getting old—I think I’ll do that!”

DorrellClarkRetirement has put the spotlight on DORRELL CLARK’S creative side—literally! This 63-year old lesbian retired from a job as a subway train operator in 2011 and began volunteering at the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance. “I am not an artist,” Dorrell says, “I’m a technical person. So to be in the same space as these creative souls was awesome!” She dove into new artistic pursuits, first taking the stage in a gender- bending role as a young gay man struggling to make peace with a homophobic brother. Later, some of her life stories were transformed into a dance performance by local artist Jessica Danser. What’s it like for Dorrell to fulfill a lifelong dream of creativity? “There are no words,” she says. “Seeing my work onstage, I had tears in my eyes.”

Connect with SAGE on social media with #OAM16 and follow the SAGE blog this and every month for inspiring stories of our LGBT elders. 

April 4, 2016

SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

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SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

SAGE is proud to lead the charge on behalf of LGBT older people, whose stories are most powerful when LGBT elders themselves tell them. In this issue you'll hear an extraordinary array of voices.

The cover features Bishop Tonyia Rawls—a religious leader whose Charlotte congregation is part of Unity Fellowship Church, which was born from a need to minister primarily to LGBT African Americans during the height of the AIDS crisis. For the third year in a row, Bishop Rawls enlisted members of Charlotte's faith community to participate in the SAGE storytelling Summit, which harnesses the power of stories to advance anti-discrimination efforts in North Carolina. In this issue, Bishop Rawls talks about working with clergy in North Carolina and leveraging those relationships to build a system of mutual respect and hope for LGBT communities.

You'll also hear from several participants in SAGEWorks, a national employment initiative for LGBT people 40 and above. This initiative ignites the potential within members of our community who have fallen out of the workforce late in their careers and hare having a hard time getting back in.

We're particularly proud to share a conversation with Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz, who have transformed countless lives through their work as activists, certified counselors, and founders of chapters of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Florida and New York. Ruth and Connie were recently honored with the SAGE Pioneer Award, which recognizes LGBT older people who pave the way for LGBT equality.

And lastly, we're honored to share an essay by Tim Maher, who reflects on his late mother's final days on Fire Island, the LGBT summer community where his family eventually came to accept him as a gay man. SAGE's cart service made Fire Island accessible to his mother during that time, just as it does for other older people, including those who need assistance moving around the car-free community. Tim's essay is the first in a series of stories about caregiving within our communities.

I hope you're as moved and inspired by these voices as I am. They are the sources of strength, resilience and warmth that enrich our communities, year after year.

 

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the triannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the Spring 2016 issue here.

November 9, 2015

Connecting Across Generations

In honor of LGBT Elders Day, SAGE is highlighting Jay Kallio's powerful story of working with young activists and battling cancer. Jay gained nationwide visibility in 2012 when he spoke out about navigating the healthcare system as a transgender man living with breast cancer. Now in the midst of a new battle, Jay talks about how a younger community of activists has connected him to newfound strength and courage. This Q&A was originally featured in SAGEMatters, SAGE's magazine. Read the full issue here.

JayKallio
Jay Kallio (Photo Credit: Rosa Goldensohn/DNAinfo.com)

Earlier this year, you were diagnosed with a new condition: terminal lung cancer. Many of us would have given up. Where were you at this point?

Most terminal cancer patients go through a process called “purging” where they start giving away their possessions. I found myself doing the same thing through the “Queer Exchange” Facebook group. When folks came to pick up my castaways, I brought them downstairs because I was ashamed of my apartment’s terrible condition. I live in public housing, which entails a lot of delayed repairs and maintenance. I didn’t have money to do repairs myself like I used to. One of the people, Ella Grasch, was concerned and questioned me in detail about the apartment. I described how the bathroom ceiling was going to fall, that lights were out, fixtures had short-circuited, and that the plumbing was backed up—numerous problems.

How did Ella and other young activists you met through Queer Exchange help you get what you needed?

Despite being trained in activism, I was too sick to advocate for my own needs. They got to work and generated networks, resources, and money. Ella knew a wonderful woman named Brianne Huntsman who set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. She works in social media marketing, so she had the skills to do it right. They raised money to repair my apartment and also to pay for some healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. People started to send in money, $10,
$50, $100, $500…it was an enormous help.

I couldn’t manage navigating the bureaucracy of my housing authority, either. I was overwhelmed by the bare minimum I needed to do to survive. Several young people became involved: social workers, someone who works in the mayor’s office, and others. They started making phone calls for me, knowing whom to call and how to get things done. My plumbing problems were soon taken care of. Slowly, many things improved.

You said that meeting younger activists from around the country through Queer Exchange and GoFundMe fueled you to generate yet another bout of activist energy. Tell us about the campaign they helped you fight against your insurance company.

My insurance company refused to cover an experimental cancer treatment—immunotherapy—because it cost too much. It was my only hope for remission. A number of younger activists got involved with my own organizing efforts. First, they joined me at this summer’s Pride March. It was amazing to see the older generation of “ACT-UPers” pushing me in a wheelchair, alongside younger LGBT and health care advocates. Taking the money raised, we planned a rally in front of the insurance company. We videotaped it so we could do an online campaign. We used so many different campaign tactics including street theater, online petitions, and a Twitter war against the insurance HMO. We contacted politicians’ offices, which also added pressure.

As we started the rally, one of the executives of the insurance company came to us and said, “Have you talked to your doctor yet this morning?” My doctor had already been e-mailed with an approval for my immunotherapy treatment. They had done a 180 on a life-saving treatment that had previously been denied. It’s because younger activists got involved and gave me a big shot in the arm that I can fight for myself again.

JaySimone
Simone Kolysh and Jay Kallio march with the National LGBT Cancer Network.

In spite of this battle and other health concerns, your rebel heart still beats strong. How have you helped SAGE and other communities fight for better care and equity?

I have worked with SAGE a lot on LGBT cultural competency and healthcare. I am writing chapters for a guidebook to help healthcare professionals better understand the needs of LGBT cancer patients. I have also presented at a few conferences to advance palliative care funding. I’m getting an awful lot done that will not only help LGBT cancer patients, but also Medicaid recipients and cancer patients across the board.

How can young people join in this fight?

After meeting so many young LGBT activists this year, I’ve said, “If you liked doing this with me, why don’t you consider volunteering with SAGE? We need your help. Beyond pushing us in the wheelchair at the next march, we need you to work with us on advocacy!” The fight goes beyond about being gay. It’s about supporting anyone who may be gay and vulnerable, which includes those who are also young, old, of color, or poor. We need cross-generational community and support for years to come. With our mutual vulnerability, we also share strengths to remedy that vulnerability. Activism works. Get involved.

Article written by Tim Wroten.

November 5, 2015

SAGEMatters Fall 2015: Blazing New Trails

The LGBT movement has had countless heroes. From activists who have graced magazine covers, to individuals who have shaped their world more quietly—simply by living authentically and visibly—each has propelled our movement forward in their own way. Many have been LGBT older people upon whom we proudly bestow the title: elder.

In this issue, you will read about activists like Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court ruling that ended our fight for marriage equality and began a new chapter in U.S. history. Obergefell’s courage and persistence led the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm that his love for John Arthur was no less than that of heterosexual spouses. It also gave fuller respect for LGBT caregivers and surviving partners. We also share a conversation with Jay Kallio, whose battle against breast cancer as a trans man highlights the healthcare struggles of so many in our community. Jay’s inspiring story also illuminates the ways in which our community members support each other across generational lines in times of need.

This past July 13, I proudly joined three elders who championed our collective cause at the White House Conference on Aging. In this issue, you can also learn about their experiences as part of the intensive campaign that SAGE successfully led, in partnership with our affiliates throughout the country, to ensure that LGBT older people were at the top of the agenda at this historically important meeting.

These are just a few of the exciting stories in our latest issue of SAGEMatters. It’s your steadfast support that makes this work possible.

 

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the triannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the Fall 2015 issue here.

September 19, 2013

The Road Ahead: SAGE’s New Strategic Plan

Michael-AdamsToday's blog post is written by SAGE Executive Director, Michael Adams.

I am proud to introduce SAGE’s new strategic plan, The Road Ahead.

As our prior 5-year plan wound down, SAGE celebrated many accomplishments, such as the successful opening of The SAGE Center, the first publicly-funded LGBT senior center; raising the profile of LGBT aging issues at the federal policy level; vastly expanding our nationwide network of affiliates; and launching the country’s first and only LGBT aging resource center. We also explored what still needs to be done, and came to the inescapable conclusion that while we have accomplished a great deal in recent years to improve the quality of life for LGBT older people, much remains to be done.

SAGE_STRATEGIC-PLAN_Final2-1To build on the exciting advances made over the past 5 years and address the vast challenges that remain, this spring SAGE’s Board of Directors adopted a visionary Strategic Framework to guide the next phase of the organization’s work.  Over the next 3 years, SAGE intends to deepen its federal policy work and its affiliate reach to achieve true national impact for the LGBT aging field.  SAGE’s efforts will continually emphasize inclusion of all LGBT older adults—regardless of where they live, and especially for those LGBT elders who have been most marginalized and are most in need of support. We will deepen our commitment to model service provision for LGBT older adults by adapting our services so that they are responsive to health and long-term care trends, evaluating and pinpointing which services are most effective, and using the resulting data to help replicate those services through our affiliate network. As the country’s largest repository of expertise on LGBT aging, SAGE will focus on knowledge-sharing by bolstering our one-of-a-kind National Resource Center on LGBT Aging to continue training aging providers around the country and by providing LGBT older people with the information they need to plan for the future. And having catalyzed a fast-growing LGBT aging field in recent years, SAGE will now focus on sustaining that growth by encouraging and supporting the work of our partners, leveraging strategic alliances, harnessing trends in health care and other sectors to build self-supporting LGBT aging work, and strengthening SAGE’s own infrastructure and support. 

It’s 2013 and we at SAGE are determined to once again change the game for LGBT older adults across the country.  Thank you for your ongoing support as we ramp up our work to turn our Plan into reality.

To read The Road Ahead in your browser, use the Issuu Reader below.

July 31, 2013

Five years of political progress for LGBT older people—but more remains

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

When I began my role at SAGE nearly four years ago, I sensed the tipping point that SAGE had animated—and which would eventually transform the field of LGBT aging.

In April 2010, I was hired to create and oversee SAGE's national policy advocacy program. As the Baby Boomer generation entered retirement age, aging advocates were increasingly discussing the implications of a quickly aging country. LGBT aging issues were becoming more salient—thanks in large part to SAGE’s leadership, organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the work of local advocates around the country—yet LGBT aging remained largely marginalized in the policy discourse and in the broader cultural narrative.

In response, SAGE had steadily built the infrastructure to imagine the large-scale, national strategies that millions of LGBT older people deserved. In the months prior to my arrival, SAGE issued a landmark policy report on LGBT older adults, in partnership with a few leading national organizations. It opened an office in Washington, DC; joined the influential Leadership Council of Aging Organizations as its only LGBT organization; and received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to seed the creation of what would later become SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Our political charge then was to make policy issues visible and relevant to leaders in government, the aging field and the LGBT rights movement. Our charge was to begin changing the representations of what it means to age as LGBT people. We sought transformational change.

This summer, as SAGE celebrates five years of achievements under the previous strategic plan, I reflect on what has changed politically for LGBT elders.

Here are seven ways in which SAGE dramatically improved the policy conversation—and the political realities—for LGBT older people over the last few years:

  1. A heightened visibility of LGBT aging in the policy discourse. Through our leadership on reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA)—developing original policy analysis, holding Congressional briefings, persuading the aging network to support our goals, and more—SAGE brought considerable attention to the omission of LGBT elders from the OAA, which awards more than $2 billion annually to aging services nationwide, yet allocates very little to LGBT aging. Currently less than $2 million of OAA funding reaches LGBT aging programs. In May of this year, a bill was introduced to make the OAA more inclusive of LGBT people—a top policy goal for SAGE as reauthorization heats up.

  2. Robust and original knowledge on the wide array of policy barriers facing LGBT older people. Since SAGE released our first major policy report in early 2010, we continue to highlight policy remedies for addressing the challenges facing LGBT elders, including landmark reports on transgender aging, spousal impoverishment, economic security and health equity, among others. In 2011, we partnered with the National Academy on an Aging Society to produce an LGBT aging-themed issue of Public Policy & Aging Report, marking the first time a mainstream aging organization issued a comprehensive policy report on LGBT aging.

  3. A stronger grassroots infrastructure of local and state organizations that engage and advocate with LGBT older people. The grassroots centerpiece of SAGE’s advocacy program is SAGENet, our network of local and state affiliates around the country. Since January 2010, SAGENet has grown remarkably—from 14 to 24 affiliates (a 71 percent increase). These local advocates in every region of the country provide critical services to LGBT older people in their communities and advocate for policy change. In 2011, many of these leaders launched statewide efforts to secure Medicaid protections for same-sex couples as part of SAGE’s multi-state initiative.

  4. A visible aging field that addresses LGBT issues and champions our efforts. In 2011, SAGE was a prominent player in the first-ever White House LGBT Conference on Aging. Additionally, our partnership-approach has influenced aging leaders to take public stances on LGBT issues—from a series of widely distributed LGBT-supportive recommendations from the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations, to a media event showcasing the aging network's support of marriage equality (weeks before the historic SCOTUS opinions), to a Congressional briefing on marginalized elders with the country’s leading aging organizations working in communities of color—and more.

  5. A firm spotlight on racial inequality and its effects on LGBT elders of color. Our involvement in the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) has focused attention on the shared barriers facing marginalized communities as they age: widespread discrimination, housing and employment insecurity, a dearth in government funding, and more. SAGE helped launch a website on these barriers and issued an original policy report. And in April of this year, as part of National Minority Health Awareness Month, we released a policy report on the health issues facing LGBT elders of color, which reached the wide array of national advocates working in health, aging, LGBT rights and racial justice.

  6. Enhanced representations of LGBT older people in the media and in social change advocacy. The number of news stories on LGBT aging has surged since 2010, reflecting the growing visibility of these issues, as well as the dedicated attention that SAGE has placed in reshaping the media narrative. Our large-scale marketing campaigns have reached millions and won multiple awards from GLAAD and the International Academy of the Visual Arts. In January 2013, SAGE launched SAGE Story, a national digital storytelling and advocacy program for LGBT elders, funded generously by the AARP Foundation. And our online presence has exploded; today SAGE reaches more 70,000 people online per month—up from 6,000 people per month in January 2010.

  7. Public policies that better support LGBT older people, and ultimately, their physical and material conditions. Our ultimate goal is to change the public policies that govern our lives. SAGE maintains a year-by-year listing of these policy achievements on our website, which includes multiple policy wins in areas such as Social Security, Medicaid, HIV and aging, and federal definitions of "greatest social need," among many others. This work is made possible by dedicated SAGE staff and our national partners.

Our policy successes in the last few years are impressive and wide-reaching—but work remains to be done. In September of this year, SAGE will unveil its new strategic plan for the next three years, and I'll offer a preview of the policy goals we seek to achieve in that time frame.

In the meantime, here’s a toast to everyone who supported our advocacy vision, helping make our aging realities more hopeful. Here’s a toast to LGBT older people, who helped our movements pave the way. And here’s a toast to achieving progress and sparking change.

Stay tuned—we’ve only just begun.

Read more about SAGE’s successes over the last five years in our latest issue of SAGEMatters.

July 29, 2013

Extra! Extra!

Read the latest issue of SAGEMatters, Summer 2013 edition! We've got articles on LGBT affordable housing, a rundown of our achievements over the past 5 years, features on our national programs and more! Download your own copy or use the Issuu reader below.