5 posts categorized "SAGENet"

February 25, 2014

Aging Out: Exploring Ageism and Heterosexism Among African American Lesbians and Gay Males

In honor of February being African American History Month, SAGE has been highlighting our diverse programs, constituents and stories relevant to black aging. Look back at our featured stories for the month. For our last post of the month, Dr. Imani Woody of SAGE Metro D.C. and  is the founding director and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, a developing LGBT friendly residential housing in Washington, DC, explores issues on ageism and heterosexism in the African American lesbian and gay communities.

ImaniPeople are complex, and African-American older LGBT adults are no exception. They live at the intersection of multiple identities experienced over the life span, in a culture steeped in racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism and homophobia. African-American lesbian and gay males experience at a minimum two hostile environments: being lesbian or gay in a heterosexist society; being a person of color in a racist culture; being female in a sexist culture; and being old in a youth-worshipping culture.

Moreover, research shows that living with racism on a daily basis influences the health and well-being of African Americans, leading to major gaps in health and financial equality, higher levels of infirmity and chronic illness, even earlier death than other populations. African-American elders are likely to experience poverty at more than two times the rate of all other older Americans.

This article comes from research cited in Lift Every Voice: Treading our Path, (NGLTF Task Force, 2012) that tells the stories of lives lived and the very real problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender African Americans coming-of-age and how those experiences shaped their lives as they grew older. People remember being conflicted in telling family members their sexual orientation and sexual identity, fearing rejection and abandonment. A 66-year-old African-American lesbian woman described it this way:

  • “I knew I was different as a child. … But I guess I was in my early teens [before I knew the words], because you don’t know what the word is. When I was coming up, the word was bull dagger. It was so negative, so you still don’t know. You are a kid; you don’t know, there were no words for it, I hate that word. It’s just I’ve gotten older, I just, ugh. … That’s so derogatory. It’s negative.”

Many older African-American lesbian women and gay men have experienced a sense of grief and loss from being alienated within one’s own race and ethnicity because of perceived sexual identity and orientation. Often the disaffection happens early and scars last for life. Many elders speak of living in hostile environments within the African-American community. As this 63-year-old African-American man explains:

  • “I know I have an androgynous look, it was even more so when I was younger. So therefore, there was some discrimination against me by assumption rather than fact because they would look at me and because I am androgynous looking they would assume. … One of my issues being African American and looking like this was really when I came out in college in the late ’60s at the height of the Black Power Movement and I was distinctly told by a couple of Black organizations at the time, ‘we don’t want your kind here.’ ”

Suspicions of institutions and institutional care are a shared ancestry of African Americans. This is also a shared experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people coming of age in the decades of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Institutional bigotry, hatred and stigma has led to medical classification and criminalization often resulting in forced psychiatric treatment of LGBT people, and loss of family, church, employment, housing and other community structures. Such bigotry is still found in the medical profession and in church. Listen to the stories of three African-American elders:

  • … You have to be careful with that [advising providers that you’re gay] because the minute you tell a medical person that you are gay, they automatically, in 90 percent of the cases, will assume you’re HIV positive and start to treat you that way.” (63-year-old African-American gay man)
  • I grew up in the church. I was baptized when I was about 11 in the Baptist church. I came to D.C. and joined a world-renowned Baptist church. I sang on two choirs, was a part of the missionary group. … I met a very nice young lady and we were going to get married so we sent some invitations to people at the church. … There were some people on the Deacon and Trustee Board who brought me before the church. … We got into this thing about what the Bible did and didn’t say, but they put me out anyway. … It still hurt me deeply. It was one of the deepest hurts I have had in my life to be put out of my church that I have put so much love and energy…” (72-year-old African-American lesbian woman)
  • In a workplace situation, for example, I might not get an assignment that I know I am qualified for, know that I’m the best person for it, and don’t get it. Is that because I am old? Is it because I am Black? Is it because I am gay? (69-year-old African-American gay man)

Continue reading "Aging Out: Exploring Ageism and Heterosexism Among African American Lesbians and Gay Males" »

October 23, 2013

"Why Do I Do This Work?"

Last week, 17 SAGENet affiliates from around the country met in Denver, Colorado for the Annual SAGENet Affiliate Meeting. Each year, our affiliates gather to connect, share ideas and learn more about the policy issues that affect LGBT older adults. In communities across the country, SAGENet is building a movement to reduce isolation, improve financial security and enhance the quality of life for LGBT older adults. The annual meeting is a way for SAGENet leaders to share ideas and best practices, study emerging policy issues, gain practical skills, and network. With the help of our local co-hosts SAGE of the Rockies and The GLBT Cennter of Colorado and with support from AARP Colorado and the Gill Foundation, we were able to hold another successful and informative meeting.

This year, we asked the question: "Why do I do this work?" Here are some answers:

August 6, 2013

Update on Philly LGBT Older Adult Housing

This post was written by Ed Miller, Senior Programs Coordinator, SAGE Philadelphia at the William Way Community Center.

ANDERSON MEETING AUGUST

SAGE Philadelphia at the William Way Community Center (WWCC) is fully engaged with preparations for the application process for the John C. Anderson Apartments. The new six-story, fifty-six unit LGBT-friendly building is on schedule to open in early 2014. It is centrally located in the heart of the Philadelphia "gayborhood," just one block from SAGE Philadelphia at WWCC.

The highly anticipated Information Sessions to inform the community about the application process are scheduled to take place on August 6, 2013 and August 28, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. The community is working to get the word out about the sessions, especially to those who may be isolated or not connected to community news, the Internet, and social media.

Everything is coming together and you can just sense the excitement in the air. SAGE Philadelphia will implement new senior programs at the site while offering extended senior programs housed at the community center. A good deal of the work in visualizing programs and services was part of WWCC's original proposal. However, the final decision on what those programs look like will be determined by the results of a survey competed during the application process. Although this narrows our community center's window to ready itself for opening day, residents have a major stake in this venture and we want to ensure that their needs are honored and met first and foremost. This is a most exciting time for the LGBT community in Philadelphia.

To RSVP for an information session, email marketing@pennrose.com.

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 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.