October 10, 2017

Coming Out to Your Healthcare Provider

 

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In celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11, SAGECare and our partner the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation want to share the vibrant voices of LGBT elders. Many of the people in the videos embedded below discuss the various consequences of neglecting to disclose your sexual orientation to your doctor. If a doctor assumes that you’re heterosexual, you may end up missing out on an array of important services you need and deserve.

Many doctors respond to this issue by saying that there is no need for patients to disclose their sexual orientation, stating that this information wouldn’t cause them to treat a patient any differently. While these reassuring words may be said with good intentions, it’s important to be able to openly discuss these matters. That way, doctors can ensure that their patients are receiving completely person-directed care, including all the relevant information, treatments, and help that speak to their specific needs.

While great progress has been made, statistics show that many LGBT people, and transgender people in particular, are still subjected to some of the most painful discrimination when accessing healthcare. This includes, but is not limited to, when people seek medical services related to gender reassignment.

Many older LGBT adults say that medical visits are easier for them once their doctor knows their sexual orientation. After having this conversation with their doctor, many patients report that they no longer feel like they have to censor themselves or worry about being judged or discriminated against. Once the information is out in the open, patients can count on their doctor’s office to be a safe space where they will be treated with respect. 

That’s why SAGECare, SAGE’s cultural competency training program for long-term care providers, and the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation created these videos. With the voices of LGBT elders and those who care for them out in the open, LGBT older adults will receive better care. Come out to your provider. And remember SAGE's slogan: We refuse to be invisible.  —Grace Jones

 

October 9, 2017

Trump Administration Issues License to Discriminate

 

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The Trump administration recently issued guidelines that dangerously give a license to discriminate against the LGBT community, especially our elders, under the guise of so-called religious freedom. 

Issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of LGBT equality, the guidance gives federal agencies broad leeway to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs and allowing them exemptions from federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Of particular note to the LGBT older adult community, nearly 85 percent of retirement communities are faith-based, according to a recent analysis by LeadingAge and Ziegler, a Chicago investment bank. What’s more, these organizations make up more than 80 percent of all units available to LGBT elders, putting them at specific risk. LGBT elders’ care could be seriously compromised by allowing these institutions or individuals to find an exemption to refuse to care for LGBT elders.

This license to discriminate also exacerbates the challenge of LGBT people seeking housing. LGBT older adults already face extreme discrimination when seeking housing: A study by the Equal Rights Center and SAGE found that 48 percent of elder same-sex couples experienced overt discrimination when applying for senior housing, and the problem is amplified for older transgender people. When it comes to visiting a doctor or a medical facility, this license to discriminate could allow providers to refuse care to LGBT people or provide substandard service.

Further, this license to discriminate goes directly against the wishes of a vast majority of Americans and a bipartisan group in Congress (60 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats), who support protecting our LGBT community, according to a recent Public Religion Research Survey.

“Today’s Department of Justice guidelines are merely a license to discriminate based on so-called religious freedom, and they are a disaster for this country,” says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Neither individuals nor faith-based organizations—nor any other entity—have the right to elevate their religious beliefs above the laws that protect all Americans. For LGBT elders, this guidance is particularly dangerous."

Adams continues: “The vast majority of long-term care providers in this country are faith-based organizations. The notion that the federal government would suggest that such organizations can elevate their religious beliefs above their legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities to provide respectful and discrimination-free care is outrageous. SAGE and LGBT elders will fight any effort to implement this license to discriminate against LGBT elders and the LGBT community.”

SAGE will continue to stand with and for our LGBT pioneers. We will not back down. We refuse to be invisible.

October 6, 2017

SAGE Assures Same-Sex Married Couples That Their Rights Are Safe

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Given the severe challenges that LGBT people have faced under the Trump administration, we understand our community’s alarm when hearing news that the administration is planning to revoke a rule proposed in 2014 to protect married, same-sex couples in long-term care facilities like nursing homes.

In consultation with our community’s best legal minds, SAGE has carefully reviewed this announcement. The proposed rule from 2014 is no longer needed in light of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015, which ensures that our marriages are federally recognized and afforded equal rights under all circumstances in all parts of the country. Therefore, in this case the Trump administration’s action will make no difference.  

Having said that, we all know that the progress our community has made is under regular attack by the Trump administration. This week alone the administration has moved to roll back protections for transgender employees and voted against a UN resolution condemning the death penalty for same-sex relations. Our elders suffer the consequences of these incessant assaults on our rights and dignity. SAGE  remains relentlessly vigilant to fight any effort to turn back the clock on our community.

October 3, 2017

Send in the Singers: Sing for Your Seniors and SAGE

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Quentin Earl Darrinton of Cats performs at SAGE 

 

The idea behind Sing for Your Seniors is simple: Singers brighten up the lives of elders in their community by offering free, uplifting musical performances, live and in person. Music not only brings joy—it can also carry therapeutic value, particularly for older adults who show signs of withdrawal, says Jackie Vanderbeck, the organization’s founder and producing artistic director. Founded 12 years ago, in 2005, Sing for Your Seniors is a New York–based nonprofit organization that has generously donated much of its time to the LGBT elders at SAGE. We recently sat down with Jackie and asked her all about Sing for Your Seniors and its strong relationship with SAGE:

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Jackie Vanderbeck, Founder & Producing Artistic Director

SAGE: Hi, Jackie! First things first: What is your personal favorite part of working with Sing for Your Seniors?

Jackie: My favorite part would have to be the connections we make. I love that our artists are getting to know and building relationships with our elder community through the many centers and hospitals we serve. It’s not often these two demographics cross paths in the fast-paced bustle of New York City. Through Sing for Your Seniors, we have built a bridge that strengthens our capacity for compassion, understanding, and inclusion.

SAGE: Sing for Your Seniors has performed at SAGE once a month for around five and a half years, so about 65 times! What makes the SAGE crowd unique compared to other audiences?

Sing for Your Seniors visits a large variety of centers and hospitals all over New York, and SAGE is a favorite among our artists because of their enthusiasm and knowledge of the music we share. Many of our audience at SAGE have worked in the Broadway community or grew up appreciating it. So, while at some of the centers I might encourage our group to choose songs from the golden era, at SAGE I tell them to bring it all—the more obscure the better! We like to try and stump the SAGE crowd. Through this mutual love of music and theatrical storytelling, we have gotten to know each other and really have become a family. It’s beautiful to see our artists hugging and chatting before our session even begins. It’s like a little reunion every time.

SAGE: You’ve had a number of award-winning Broadway performers volunteer with Sing for Your Seniors, many of whom have come to SAGE. How do you get them on board?

Being a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, I am lucky to have a large network of friends in the entertainment industry, many of whom are performing on Broadway. When I am looking to do one of our Broadway Sessions, board member Daniel Torres or I will reach out to someone we know in a particular show to see if they’d like to participate. When possible, we pair a show whose message is poignant to a particular community we serve. For example, I was very passionate about bringing Fun Home to SAGE. Fun Home is the first Broadway musical to have a lesbian protagonist, and I wanted the folks at SAGE to have the opportunity to see what their generation paved the way for. In that session, SAGE enjoyed performances from several members of the original cast, including Tony Award winner Judy Kuhn and Tony Award nominee Beth Malone. Accompanying them on piano was musical director Chris Fenwick, fellow CCM alum and friend, who jumped at the chance to bring the show to SAGE.

We have had cast from 15 shows participate since starting the Broadway Sessions program in 2012. SAGE has received four, with performances by Kinky Boots, Cats, Fun Home, and most recently, War Paint.

 

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The cast of War Paint performs at SAGE

 

SAGE: Beautiful! Any final thoughts?

Performing with Sing for Your Seniors is very freeing for artists in an industry that is still very much developing its awareness for inclusion. Artists can come to our sessions and share with an audience any song they desire without having to think twice about whether or not they are the “right” gender identity, ethnicity, age, sex, or sexual orientation—or simply look the way a character has traditionally been portrayed. By giving artists a space to explore and strengthen their craft in a setting that celebrates all perspectives, not only is it beautifully impactful to our performers and our audiences, but my hope is that we are fostering a louder voice in the inclusion movement.  —Daniel Kessel

Sing for Your Seniors is a New York–based nonprofit organization founded in 2005. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Beth Malone of Fun Home at SAGE
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Annaleigh Ashford of Kinky Boots at SAGE
September 16, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Our Mother

SAGE CEO Michael Adams’s poignant and empowering message delivered at LGBTQ icon Edie Windsor’s memorial service in New York City on September 15, 2017. You can view a video of the memorial service here. The service starts at the 30 minute mark.

 

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Edie and my mom at the 2016 SAGE Awards

Since I learned the news of Edie’s passing on Tuesday, I’ve been carrying around a beautiful picture of Edie and my mom, taken at last year’s SAGE Awards gala. I’ve pondered why, of all the many pictures I have of Edie, it’s that photo that I’ve been clinging to these past few days. Then it came to me: in so many ways, Edie was our mother.

Like mothers do, she made every one of her children feel that they were the apple of her eye. I know, because she made ME feel that way. Always. I’m not one to dwell on whatever I manage to get right; I’m too busy figuring out what I got wrong and how to fix it. But when Edie told me she was proud of me, that meant EVERYTHING to me, as if my own mother had told me. Because in a powerful way that I can’t quite explain, Edie mothered me. My amazing Mom who is in that picture with Edie raised me up as a child to be the person I am, for better and for worse. But it was Edie who raised me to do my best for our beloved LGBTQ community. She taught me so much. She inspired me. She made me smile and made my heart beat on the toughest of days.

This is my personal story about Edie. But it’s also our LGBTQ community’s story, because Edie loved and mothered all of us. Edie once said: “I’ve been having a love affair with the gay community.”  And we all felt her love. Edie was family at SAGE. She served on our Board of Directors for many years, she was a guiding light for the bold community education group Old Queers Acting Up. She was a regular at the SAGE Center. But she had so much love to spread around. She loved my sister LGBT leaders Glennda Testone and Wendy Stark and so many more. She loved The Center and Callen-Lorde and so many of our community organizations. 

Edie gave us her fearless leadership in New York City, across the U.S., and indeed across the world. Her impact was so huge, so widespread. And yet it was so personal, so much about each of us, because she was always on the move, always beside us, always rooted in our community. Whether she was serving as assistant stage manager for Taking Liberties, an amazing lesbian musical supporting Astraea [Lesbian Foundation for Justice], the [National Gay and Lesbian] Task Force, and the [Lesbian Herstory] Archives. Or when she attended the very first conference of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Or when she was a marriage equality ambassador for the Empire State Pride Agenda. The list of Edie’s activist efforts goes on for pages.

Continue reading "Saying Goodbye to Our Mother" »

September 14, 2017

SAGE Takes Loving, Caring Activism to the Streets at Pride Celebrations Across the Country

SAGE motivated tens of thousands of LGBT people across generations to step out at Pride celebrations nationwide. It was a summer of firsts: In New York City, SAGE partnered with Airbnb to bring a trans elder to his very first Pride. While in Talkeetna, Alaska, a town of 900 residents 100 miles north of Anchorage, 300 members of the LGBT community participated in its inaugural Pride event. Varied in theme and locale, Pride gatherings from St. Louis and Tulsa to Albuquerque and Chicago, all had one thing in common. SAGE was there in force with the unified message of “We Refuse to Be Invisible!”

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SAGE Milwaukee

 

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SAGE Milwaukee


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SAGE New York

 

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SAGE Center on Halsted, Chicago

 

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SAGE of the Desert, Palm Springs

 

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SAGE Tampa Bay

 

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At right, Theo Hutchinson, Airbnb winner, with David Russell at NYC Pride

 

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SAGE Alaska
June 5, 2017

Now Available: SAGE Health Storylines Self-Care App

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The SAGE Health Storylines self-care app makes it easy for older adults living with HIV and AIDS—and their caregivers—to track their health. A variety of tools, including a medication tracker, a mood tracker, and a symptom tracker, allow you to build your health story. The My Storylines feature allows you to learn more about your health, and to share more—safely and securely—with your doctor about what happened between visits.

App ImageThis app was designed in partnership with SAGE and Self Care Catalysts and is powered by the Health Storylines™ platform from Self Care Catalysts Inc.

You can customize your app with several self-care tools such as:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Symptom Tracker
  • Daily Mood Tracker and Journal
  • Vitals Tracker (Weight, Blood Pressure, etc.)
  • Ability to sync with wearable devices (e.g. Fitbit)

By using SAGE Health Storylines, you have the opportunity to anonymously contribute learning from your story to a vital data resource that helps researchers improve care in the future for people like you.

Need help getting started? Send an email to support@healthstorylines.com.

The FREE app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also use the web version on your desktop computer by clicking here.

DOWNLOAD IT NOW

SAGE App on Apple AppStore SAGE App on Google Play

 

May 31, 2017

LGBT Elders Tell Washington: We Refuse to Be Invisible 

InvisibleHomepageBy sending more than 9,000 letters to Washington, people across the country raised their voices with SAGE and many other organizations, LGBT and allies alike, to tell the Trump administration that we refuse to be invisible

Given the erasure of LGBT issues from White House and federal agency websites within hours of Donald Trump’s inauguration, we at SAGE were alarmed but not surprised when we learned of the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate LGBT elders from an annual federal aging survey, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAPP), which is overseen by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This crucial survey helps determine how $2 billion in publicly funded elder services gets distributed. 

With the new regime in Washington seemingly determined to wipe out the progress toward LGBT inclusion in federal aging policies and programs, we at SAGE quickly realized that our LGBT elders and their advocates were in for a big fight. SAGE responded against this outrageous elimination with the #WeRefuseToBeInvisible campaign, a grassroots effort to mobilize a strong response during the Public Comment period that the administration is legally required to undertake before making major changes—such as erasing an entire population—to an important federal program. The Public Comment period for the survey exclusion ended on May 12, and thanks to an outpouring outrage against this erasure, Washington heard our unified message: We refuse to be invisible! 

On April 27, a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. Senators led by Senator Susan Collins, Republican chair of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, publicly demanded a reversal of the Trump administration’s plans to erase LGBT elders. Then, on the last day of Public Comment, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus sent a bipartisan letter from 50 members of the House of Representatives to Tom Price, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. The letter admonished the ACL, the division of HHS that oversees the survey, for its the erasure of LGBT adults and demanded that it reinstate the LGBT demographic question. 

Now we await a final decision from the Trump administration on LGBT inclusion in the elder services survey. But while we wait, we will not back down in our opposition to the erasure of our older LGBT community, because unfortunately, there is every indication that more battles are looming on the horizon. 

Through all of these battles and those to come, SAGE will continue to stand with and for our LGBT elder pioneers. We will not back down. We refuse to be invisible.

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Pride Month Is Here

YOU ARE SIMPLY THEIn case you've been hiding under a rock, June is Pride Month, and everyone at SAGE is excited to celebrate! Starting this weekend, the calendar is jam-packed with events around New York City to show the strength of our community and the depth of our passion. 

As we let loose, though, we are aware more than ever of the tenuous state of affairs in our government. Our response can only be one of action. We will never give up, and we will never stop fighting for our rights. This Pride month, we refuse to be invisible! 

To that end, join SAGE in participating at one of these events planned throughout June: 

May 12, 2017

Remember: We Refuse To Be Invisible!