32 posts categorized "Women"

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.

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.

March 31, 2016

LGBT and Faith-based Communities: On the Reconciliation of Sexuality and Spirituality

To commemorate Women’s History Month, SAGE highlights the inspiring work of Reverend Elder Darlene Garner and how faith intersects with her LGBT activism.

By Vera Lukacs

Darlene Garner is the first African-American woman to be elected on the Board of Elders at Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and a fierce LGBT advocate. She is a co-founder of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays (NCBLG), leads the biannual Conference for People of African Descent (PAD) and was President of the Board of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry. Along with two other LGBT couples, Reverend Elder Garner and her partner Candy Holmes were the first LGBT people to be married in Washington, D.C. in 2010 after marriage equality was recognized there.

Garner believes in the intersectionality of faith and LGBT issues, and MCC is a haven for spiritual LGBT folks. MCC is an inclusive sanctuary for the LGBT community, the international denomination welcomes people of all gender identities, sexualities, and faith with open arms. In Elder Garner’s words,

“MCC’s pioneering work on the reconciliation of sexuality and spirituality and our theology on the sacredness of the human body are reflected throughout all of our justice efforts and serve to advance women’s issues globally. Whether the issue is women in leadership; a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth, retain custody, or adopt a child; a woman’s right to access to education, water, or health care; a woman’s right to choose whether, when, and who to marry; or a woman’s need for a safe place to be herself, MCC has taken a stand and the people of MCC around the world have been and continue to be actively involved.”

In this powerful speech, Rev. Elder Darlene touches on the intersectionality between the LGBT and the faith-based communities: 

 

Elder Garner, SAGE thanks you for your extraordinary work in the LGBT and faith-based communities!

March 25, 2016

Kim Watson: A Fearless Advocate for the Trans Community

By Vera Lukacs

Award-winning trans advocate Kim Watson’s inspirational work paves way for the LGBTQ community.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, SAGE would like to bring attention to a particularly inspiring woman. Kim Watson is the co-founder of Community Kinship Life (CKLife), an organization that provides services, resources and support to transgender people. Kim is a mentor and mother figure to young trans people, bringing  them together to live and learn in a safe and stimulating space. Kim also works with Black Transmen Inc., and is currently writing Healing Our Women for POC Trans Women.

Kim watsonKim, herself a woman of transgender experience, advocates for many other transgender people. When asked about the importance of allies in the transgender community, she says, “Allies are folks who are committed to support their SOFFA (significant other family friends and allies) without any deception. The LGBTQ community still has hiccups while trying to support the trans* community, but with dedication they will get better, I believe, in time.”

In a recent GLAAD blog post for #LGBTQFamilies Day, Kim Watson shares on being a mother, wife and mentor of trans experience: “I am also the mother figure/mentor of chosen kids. I have nine boys and one girl who are my chosen children. Now, being a mother figure to these kids has stabilized my patience, my commitment, my passion and energy to keep loving all of them unconditionally. I cannot always see them, but every day I speak to most of them, or they text me.”

Kim is the recipient of many awards, including the Christine Jorgenson Award, the Black Trans Ally Award, and the Certificate of Merit from Senator Jose Serrano (NY).

Kim says, as an aging advocate, it’s important to “stay stress free and practice self care”. Kim, we thank you for your hard work and advocacy for the trans community!

March 23, 2016

Dreaming At Any Age

by Marsha Aizumi. This article originally appeared in the Pacific Citizen.

Almost five years ago I retired from a 13-year job that I loved. It was time. And it was also frightening. Work gave me purpose and a place to belong. Would I find that same fulfillment now as a retired person? I had decided to write a book about my journey with my transgender son and also I seemed to be moving in the direction of becoming something I knew nothing about: an LGBTQ activist. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and take a leap of faith. So that is what I did.

During these past five years, I have learned that my greatest power lies in being myself. I have also learned that age puts no limitations on what you can do. Everything is a choice. For the first part of my life, I really didn’t know what being myself was. I was a perfectionist, because I never wanted to be wrong. And if I was perfect, nobody would criticize me. But often being perfect and expecting perfection from others gave neither of us room to grow and make mistakes. And it also put a tremendous amount of pressure on me. I didn’t risk taking on anything where I could fail and so I never took on things that could expand who I was as a person.

I was often afraid to speak out for fear of offending others and having them judge me as a terrible employee, mother or human being. At work, my bosses would encourage me to share my thoughts and not be so invisible. I tried to be visible, but at the first hint of disapproval I would quietly move into invisibility once again. Not being seen seemed safer.

And then Aiden, my son, came out as transgender and my world was turned upside down. Something inside of me changed. I could no longer think about myself; I needed to think about him. No longer could I go through life casually seeing how every day would unfold for me. No, I had to make each day count. I had to courageously step out, most of the time being scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, but doing it anyway. Brene Brown, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly says, “You can be brave and scared at the same time.” Most of the time, you didn’t have to tell me I was scared. I felt that inside. But brave was a whole new concept. If I was scared and I did it anyway, that was brave?

In the beginning I made a lot of mistakes. I said the wrong thing, but I learned the power of saying “I’m sorry.” I did wrong things and learned the power of asking, “How can I do it better next time?” Sometimes people did or said hurtful things to me. And I learned the power of saying, “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but when you said that about my son, my heart felt bad.” In most cases, I was forgiven, or given better ways to handle things or was apologized to. In all cases, I walked away understanding more, feeling prouder of myself or realizing how I could do things better in the future. The hard part of apologizing, asking how I could do better or sharing my feelings was that most of the time, I felt like a lobster without a shell. Later I found out that was how you feel when you are being vulnerable.

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Marsha speaking at the HRC Time to Thrive Conference in February 2016. Photo by Steph Grant Photography.

 

But being vulnerable has helped me grow and provided me gifts that I never thought would come into my life as a retiree. Authentically sharing my journey of transitioning with my transgender son, I have met so many beautiful people all over the country. And taking on challenges like speaking to larger and larger crowds, even though I was scared, has given me a purpose greater than I thought I would have. Last month, I spoke in Chicago at a conference called Creating Change. At the end of the workshop, I stopped a young lady who left our presentation crying. “Are you okay?” I asked as she walked past me. “Yes,” she replied, “I am walking out with hope.” Two weeks later I spoke to 800 educators and professionals in Dallas. I was scared going on stage, but I just kept telling myself just keep your heart open and be yourself. At the end, they gave me a standing ovation.

I think what I want to share with you today is that you are NEVER too old to go out and make a difference. Forget your age… find your passion! Go out and share who you authentically are. If you are not sure what your life can look like if you do this, rent a movie called “The Intern” with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. Or google the name Virginia McLaurin, a 106-year-old lady who started a social media campaign at age 104 to meet President Obama and dreamed of being invited to the White House. The video of their meeting has gone viral and inspired so many! We are never too old to bring value to the lives of others. And we are never too old to dream.

Marsha Aizumi is the author of “Two Spirits, One Heart” and is on the PFLAG National Board of Directors. Learn more about her at www.marshaaizumi.com.
March 17, 2016

SAGEWorks: Helping Women Rejoin the Workforce

By Vera Lukacs

As part of a larger effort to support and benefit LGBT older adults, SAGE held a special SAGEWorks event on March 16th to help those looking to rejoin the workforce. Panelists included Jason Rosenbaum (Thomson Reuters), Jens Audenaert (ADP), JoAnne D'Aleo (The Transition Network), Angela Lee (Callen-Lorde), Addie Rimmer (Workforce Opportunity Services) and Tawanna Huguley (Good Shepherd Services).

Participant Wanda Lawrence found the event highly informative. “I’m feeling more confident now as opposed to when I walked in the door. This has been a challenge for me but I feel very supported in this space.”

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-03-17/c3f59f4c19cf4d92949f611587285b53.pngPanelists at SAGE Center Midtown: Photo by Michele D'Amato

In the article, Older Women Are Being Forced Out of the Workforce, Harvard Business Review highlights a study by economists at the University of California at Irvine and Tulane University that uncovers “robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women.” One example of gender and age disparities in the workforce is the lower callback rate for middle-aged female applicants, as compared to their younger counterparts. The rate comparison between middle-aged and young male applicants was similar.

It’s no surprise that women and men experience the workplace differently. For instance, a woman makes 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. It’s a cold, hard fact that women have a harder time getting jobs, keeping them, and growing within their positions over time — and it’s especially challenging for older women in the LGBT community.

SAGEWorks, a national employment initiative for LGBT adults 40 years and older, connects LGBT job seekers with the skills and support to land a job in their desired field. Programs include 2-week boot camps, individual coaching, work readiness exercises, and more.

To commemorate Women’s History Month, SAGE is sharing the unique perspectives of aging LGBT women. Do you have a workplace story to share? Tell us in the comments!  

March 10, 2016

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

This post, in honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10th) comes from Maria Eugenia Lane of NHCOA. This post originally appeared on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on March 10, 2016. Read the original post here.

Women and girls are often an overlooked population in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Yet, about one-quarter of Americans living with HIV are women and girls. Tragically, many of these women and girls are youth or older adults. Today, about 26% of new HIV diagnoses are youth aged 13-24 and about 25% of those living with HIV are adults aged 55 and older.

The importance in preventing HIV among women and girls is recognized each year on March 10 through the National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day. It is important for the health and happiness of women and girls nationwide that they are empowered to make decisions that will protect them from HIV/AIDS, including abstinence, protection and testing.

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Diverse women and girls and older women often do not know that they are vulnerable to infection with HIV. These populations especially need to be informed about HIV and the steps to take to protect oneself from infection.

Cristina, Nina for short, for example was an independent teenager with a mind of her own. She wanted to be free and so rebelled against her parents and did whatever she wanted. Only her grandmother could get her to listen, although Nina did not always take her Grandmother’s advice seriously. She thought her Grandmother was old-fashioned. Her Grandmother was worried about Nina, so she talked to her repeatedly about the importance of protecting herself against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Nina dismissed her Grandmother’s advice because her Grandmother’s stress on abstinence as the best way to protect herself from HIV and other STD’s. One day, however, Nina was talking with her friend’s boyfriend when he confided in her that he was HIV positive and he did not know how to tell his girlfriend. Nina was frightened as she thought that this could be happening to her. Her Grandmother’s advice came flooding back. She told her friend’s boyfriend that he must tell his girlfriend and begin to use protection on the counsel of a doctor. She also realized that caring for oneself is more important than anything else. She was so impacted by this lesson that she decided to work with girls of her age to educate them on how to be free and independent while respecting themselves and protecting themselves from HIV.

If you are a woman or girl, love yourself and take action to protect yourself from HIV!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition. Photo courtesy of Adam Jones. https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones

March 8, 2016

Remembering International Women’s Day

By Vera Lukacs 

In today’s world, women of all ages are largely overlooked, discouraged, and unsupported in accomplishing their goals. This is especially true in the LGBT older women’s community. It is critical that in the larger community we are empowering and elevating the voices of women of all ages and backgrounds. With this in mind, SAGE is celebrating the following individuals: 

 

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Katherine Acey and SAGE's CEO Michael Adams at Creating Change-- Photo by Gretchen Rachel Hammond

Katherine Acey, recipient of the SAGE Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues, is exceptionally noteworthy. Acey, an Arab American, is a highly respected feminist in the LGBT older adult community. She was the executive director for Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice for 23 years. Two other notable heroes are Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz, recipients of the SAGE Pioneer Award. Berman and Kurtz have been together for 42 years and married since July 26th, 2011— two days after New York recognized marriage equality. Featured in the documentary, Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House, the couple fights for the protection and equality of LGBT elders. 

Who are some of your favorite heroines? It can be a celebrity, a friend, or an inspiring family member like mine.  

When I was asked to write about the significance of Women’s History Month and SAGE’s work with women throughout the years, I spent days racking my brain trying to think of who I could claim as an inspiring female role model. I thought about women in history like Audre Lorde, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and CeCe McDonald. Or maybe I’d list some of my best friends, who are all doing incredible work for the women’s rights movement. While making burritos for my partner and I on a Sunday night, my mind suddenly went to my female role model: my 14-year-old cousin, Olivia Najarian.  

I first heard about the remarkable work Olivia is doing with the World Bicycle Relief through her mother’s Facebook. World Bicycle Relief is an organization that provides bikes to people in communities that are less fortunate. In April 2015, Olivia kick-started her work with the organization by writing an essay for their blog on why she wanted to fundraise for them, and the importance of certain disparities between western culture and that of other parts of the world. She is currently working on a project of her own called Good Spokes, a nonprofit that aims to provide safe access to education on health care for people in need. Olivia is just one example of what a young woman can achieve with a bit of support, encouragement, and a lot of determination. 

Vera Lukacs is SAGE's Digital Media Assistant. 

May 21, 2015

The High Cost of Not Being Authentic

Lying about who you are at work costs both money and happiness. It's true.

Arianna
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, spoke at the conference about the importance of sleep and reducing stress at work. 

Earlier this month I attended Sodexo’s Quality of Life Conference in New York. Why would Sodexo, a company known in the U.S. mostly for cafeteria food, put on such a show? “Get with the program! You should know Sodexo is about more than cafeteria food," said Laura Schalk, Sodexo's head of press relations. "In this company we are evangelical about quality of life, and ensuring a great work environment so that employees feel motivated and valued – which links to issues like equality and work-life balance.”

Motivated and valued employees are nice but I went looking for gay stuff. The panel discussion “Gender Balance: How Can Women’s Success Benefit All” caught my eye. I went to find out if women are going to pull me along for the ride as they smash through the glass ceiling.

And that’s when I saw him, sitting at the dais, wearing a fitted gray suit with legs crossed, his muscular thighs straining against the delicate fabric. Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. He had the type of biography that makes you feel like a loser who sleeps too much: “He was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School. He teaches in the areas of constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and law and literature. He has published three books.”

Then Professor Yoshino mentioned having a husband and two children so I stopped fantasizing about our wedding and began to listen.

According to Professor Yoshino, women, LGBT-people, and all minority groups, are likely to “cover” at work in order to get along, conform and move ahead. Covering means changing behavior to mimic leadership, which is mostly straight white males. Women are urged by leadership to be more masculine. Then women are urged to re-cover when they act too masculine. And they say women are fickle.

Yoshino said he covered as a young professor at Harvard Law School after a seemingly well-meaning colleague told him he would do better there if he acted like a homosexual professional rather than a professional homosexual. I’m an amateur gay right now but hoping to go pro after Nationals.

So what’s the problem with making straight white men more comfortable besides the fact it’s 2015? Yoshino says covering costs cold hard cash. In a survey, 53 percent of employees said they felt pressured by leadership to cover. Of that 53 percent, 50 percent said it undermined their dedication to the organization. “Covering, or being inauthentic, has a high cost for an individual’s well-being and organizational performance.”

At the conference dinner later, several women who were not able to attend the gender balance panel asked me if there is a solution to covering. I flippantly suggested sending all straight white men to the moon (What's that old joke? If we can send one there...) Once I realized this was impossible, I apologized for my bad joke and told them I had not eaten and drank two martinis. Then I told them I’m going to leave it to the guy who went to Harvard, Oxford and Yale to fix the problem. He has some good ideas that you can read here.

For more about Sodexo’s Quality of Life Conference, go here.

-- Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks

April 9, 2015

Announcing the Grand Prize Winner of the LGBT Healthy Aging Contest!

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and the National Council on Aging’s National Institute of Senior Centers are proud to announce the winners of our 2015 Healthy LGBT Aging Photo Contest! It was a tough job choosing the winners from the 60-plus wonderful and dynamic photographs entered from all over the world, but our Grand Prize winner is Deborah Craig with her portrayal of “Two Women in a Forest.” Below is our featured interview with Deborah. Click here to view all of the winners and read their stories.

Deborah Craig - Grand Prize

Hi Deborah. Thanks for taking time to talk with us. First off, congratulations on winning the Grand Prize of our 2015 Healthy LGBT Photo Contest! Who are the people in your award-winning photo?
Thank you! It’s a great honor! The woman on the left is Nancy Stoller, retired professor of at UC Santa Cruz; the woman on the right is Joan MacQuarrie, a retired building inspector. It was taken in Northern California, on a women’s land community that has been in existence since the 1970s. This was a work weekend so mostly we were weed-wacking, hacking down brush, etc. This was not a deeply premeditated photo, I did have my good camera out, noticed the beautiful light, and thought the redwoods in the background and the tools and work clothes and women together perfectly expressed the spirit of this women’s land community: making something by working together, taking pleasure in the outdoors and beauty of nature, and, also feeling a sense of obligation as conservators of the land.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Have you always been interested in photography?

My background is a little bit eclectic. I have a degree in history and worked in publishing and as a writer in the tech industry for years, but I also have a lifelong interest in music and the arts. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a teenager and was in the photo department at California College of the Arts in Oakland for four years but didn’t have the funds to complete my degree. Now I teach at San Francisco State University in public health, but I do my best to keep my hand in the arts. I still play music (I’ve played jazz drums since 11!) and have been making health-related short films—including several films about women living with HIV and a current project on lesbians.

That’s exciting! What is the film about?
I hope to focus on lesbians and aging, but very specifically on lesbians aging in communities. (I’m a lesbian and aging myself!) I’m looking into women’s land communities—that’s where the picture was taken—but also retirement communities and RV communities. I hope to show these as three different types of communities that can support lesbians aging in positive ways. I actually think we’re experiencing a first: lesbians (and gay men, of course) aging while out of the closet. In some ways, I see many of these dynamic, political, engaged, and energetic women as role models for aging, not just for LGBT people, but for everyone.

Can’t wait to see it! Back to the photo. Can you tell me what you hope it conveys to people?
I hope it shows the strength, spirit of community, and just plain happiness of women working together in the outdoors. And of course the real beauty of aging.  

Do you think there is enough representation of LGBT older adults in the media?
Of course not!! There’s not enough representation of old people, of queers, or of women. So when you add that together, there’s especially not enough representation of older lesbians. We need to have more images, pictures, films, etc., showing older LGBT folks aging in a positive way. 

Considering you’re a “lesbian and aging yourself,” what do you think are major issues our LGBT community faces as they age?
I’m guessing there are probably at least several, many of them the same as for anyone who is aging: physical health, mental health, in particular loneliness, low income, etc. I haven’t interviewed seniors who are in the closet, but I definitely hear about them all the time. Many lesbians of course didn’t earn as much as men, and the cost of living has gotten so high. Some lesbians didn’t have children and may not have a family-based support network as they age. Again, those are all just guesses.

Those are pretty good guesses! We actually did a whole report on issues facing LGBT older adults called Out & Visible, and these were all major issues. You know your stuff! To finish up, who would you love to photograph?
Hmmm, a good question. I love photographing older people who have lived rich and full lives and are still full of spunk and inquiry. Maybe it’s a little bit of a cliche, but I think their history really shows on their faces. If you mean a particular person, maybe Jane Goodall or Ruth Bader Ginsberg–women with accomplished lives who have focused on their work not on how they look and who haven’t tried to pretend they are younger than they are. I’d love to photograph any lesbians along those lines too, but none are leaping to mind unfortunately.

That’s okay, I’m sure you’ll think of some in the future. Thanks again for chatting with me!
Thank you!

March 17, 2015

A Quick Chat With SAGE Participant Brenda Culhane

Our monthly “Quick Chats” with SAGE participants offer a first-person perspective on our community.  This month, we spoke Brenda Culhane, a 74-year-old lesbian and SAGE participant in Portland, Oregon. Brenda came out a bit later than some, at age 39, and is now an active LGBT advocate and spokesperson. Brenda spoke with us about her struggle to live openly, why she values her community, and the changes she’s witnessed in her lifetime for LGBT people.

Brenda culhane

At what age did you come out? Can you describe that process? 

I came out later in life.  I had thought that I was different when I was in college but was too afraid to act on it. I got married to prove I was not different.  I came out after that marriage was over...I was 39. This was in the 1970’s. 

Who are the most important people in your life?  

My friends—many of whom I met at SAGE.  We all work to support each other, especially if someone is ill or going through a hard time.  We are there for each other because most of us do not have family nearby or wanting to be involved in our lives.

I have one friend, Sherri, who is developmentally delayed who lives up the street from me. My mom used to live in the house where I’m living and Sherri took an interest in her and checked on her every day. I was my mom’s primary caretaker and so I really appreciated Sherri, it took a big load off me! After my mom died we became friends. It felt like we had the same mother at that point so we call each other ‘sis’. She checks on me. She has a lot of prejudice against gay people, and she really struggles with the fact that I’m gay. She’s getting more exposed to my friends. So I think in her head, at this point, she thinks it’s ok for women to be gay but not men. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference in the world what her opinion is, but she is getting more educated. 

The conservative neighbors down the street have a teenage boy in Catholic school who came over and wanted to interview me. I said “why?” and he said “we’re interviewing different people” and I said “you mean gay?” and he cringed and said yes. So even the Catholic schools are doing that! 

That’s promising! So just by being open about who you are, you are educating and enlightening people around you in a one-on-one way.

Yeah! In the 60’s and 70’s the message was ‘everyone come on out come out!’ It was so terrifying to do that. I’m kind of a wimp on some things. So every time I came out my stomach was in knots.  Even now, coming out to my doctor is still hard. 

But do you find that you’re met with more love and respect than you used to be, when you come out?

Yeah. When I was first coming out to myself, I got married because I was too afraid. Then I got a divorce and came out. I lost some friends. The people who had a really hard time with it, in retrospect, were questioning their own sexuality. Looking back now, that makes sense. 

How did you find out about SAGE? What kinds of SAGE activities do you participate in? 

I belonged to a group here in Portland called Gay and Gray that became affiliated with SAGE a few years ago.  I am involved in the SAGE housing committee.  We all have had friends who have had to go into assisted/independent living and they do not feel safe coming out in that environment.  They have all gone back into the closet.  It is so sad.  This committee goes around to the various senior living residences and asks them to be part of our brochure for LGBT seniors.  This month the group put out our second brochure and it has 4 more residences included—we’re very proud of that. We’ve faced challenges because most senior residential places would rather not deal with this issue.  We are all proud of our newest brochure.  

I’m also on a speaker committee that talks about LGBT issues to any group requesting SAGE services.  I have spoken at high schools, colleges and conferences so far.  I enjoy going to these venues and educating people about us.  And of course I love our yearly gatherings, like our Valentine party, our Holiday Party and our summer BBQ.  I have many friends whom I only see at these events and it is wonderful.

Why is SAGE important to you?

I feel emotional support from the staff and enjoy the yearly gathering with lots of other LGBT folks.  It is a lot of fun. 

What makes you smile? 

My dog Emmy, a good book, a great movie, a wonderful meal, a sunset, the smell of spring flowers, and having a butch flirt with me.

-- Posted by Kira Garcia