November 1, 2017

Caregiving Around the Clock: National Family Caregivers Month and Resources for the LGBT Community

National Caregivers Month (1)Each November we recognize National Family Caregivers Month. As the theme for this year makes clear, many of us are aware that caring for a spouse/partner, family member, or friend is often a 24/7 commitment of caregiving around the clock.

SAGE recognizes the importance of caregiving and planning within the LGBT community. A 2015 AARP report indicates 9 percent (3 million) of the 34.2 million Americans who provide unpaid care to another adult over the age of 50 identify as LGBT.  Additionally, LGBT older adults are less likely to have children and more likely to live alone, meaning that friends or families of choice often step in to provide care and support for LGBT older adults. And while we may anticipate becoming a caregiver for a loved one, we may put off thinking about our own caregiving needs should we have surgery or an illness that requires support from others.

During National Family Caregivers Month, SAGE is excited to introduce two new guides designed to help support the LGBT older adult caregiving community. The first guide, "Caregiving in the LGBT Community: A Guide to Engaging and Supporting LGBT Caregivers Through Programming," provides an overview of caregiving in the LGBT community, along with specific ideas, lessons learned, and best practices for expanding programs to support LGBT caregivers and those caring for LGBT older adults. The second guide, "Create Your Care Plan: An LGBT Person’s Guide to Preparing for Medical Procedures," is designed to help LGBT older adults prepare for surgery or a chronic illness by putting a plan in place for their medical team and caregivers. This guide includes planning worksheets, resources, and tips for getting on the road to a successful recovery. Care-planning worksheets are also available for download.

Take time during National Family Caregivers Month to read through these resources and share with others in your community who may benefit from them. We also recognize that caregiving and recovery from a medical procedure can often be a stressful time. While you may find yourself caregiving around the clock, you are not alone. SAGE’s LGBT Elder Hotline (1-888-234-SAGE) offers peer support and additional resources. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a resource page dedicated to caregiving. Together, we can equip ourselves with the knowledge and resources to provide care and support to our LGBT family. —Sherrill Wayland

 

October 31, 2017

What Students Need to Know About LGBT History

LGBTQ History is made every day, not just to be celebrated over the course of one month. We recently asked SAGE Facebook fans about what they view as the most important stories for the next generation to learn. Check out some of the answers below:

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Sidenote: Our Instagram story poll returned almost unanimous results—where's the LGBT History in our schools? We have several Facebook followers who would make A+ teachers, if you're in need!

 

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Join the conversation on Facebook and Like SAGE USA to add your voice to a nation of LGBT elders, allies, and advocates.
—Lucy Doyle

October 30, 2017

Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Pushing Us Back Into the Closet? No Way!

 

C72c6297-a7ff-4ad1-a0b2-6c366523d7a2Can you imagine being forced back into the closet when you and your partner apply for affordable housing? Or not being allowed to honor your spouse's last wishes upon their passing? And all denied to you because an establishment decides to discriminate against you based on its "religious beliefs" or its own definition of free speech? 

The Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case before the United States Supreme Court represents much more than allowing a same-sex couple its right to purchase a wedding cake. It's about protecting older LGBT people from having a license to discriminate in senior centers, housing, long-term care facilities, and funeral homes. That's why SAGE, with the assistance of the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, joined the American Society on Aging when it filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Colorado Court of Appeals' Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling that everyone has a right to equal treatment under the law.

"This case could affect tens of thousands of older LGBT people," says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "As we have stated in our amicus brief, many LGBT elders are single. Many are poor. And many are in declining health. Most of these LGBT older adults are not looking to buy a custom cake or purchase a floral arrangement or have their picture taken. They are seeking nondiscriminatory access to facilities such as senior centers, long-term care facilities, and funeral homes. They are entitled to live out their later years in dignity. SAGE stands in opposition to allowing discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.”

October 26, 2017

SAGENet Blossoms in the City of Roses


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SAGENet celebrates in Portland.

SAGENet affiliates converged on Portland, Oregon, earlier this month for an annual meeting that brings together the largest group of people in the United States who lead programs tailored to the needs of LGBT older adults.

“Each year, we meet to deepen our skills by sharing what works in our communities,” says Serena Worthington, SAGE’s Director of National Field Initiatives. “It fuels us to do the work we love with and for LGBT elders.”

 

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From left: SAGE Wilmington's Jeff Mills (kneeling), SAGE Hudson Valley's Jeff Rindler, SAGE's Christina Da Costa, SAGE Alaska's Gayle Schuh,
SAGE Raleigh's Bob Wenz, SAGE's Sterling Herr, SAGE PROMO Fund's Dan Stewart, SAGE Utah's Charles Hoy-Ellis, and SAGE Milwaukee's Marissa Burns.

Nearly 40 participants learned about promoting effective grassroots advocacy; fostering good mental health in a post-Trump world; implementing SAGE’s new branding initiative; and much more.

“I found the Media Activist Training to be the most helpful to me personally, since I sometimes have trouble finding the best way to express my thoughts,” says Julie Schmidt of SAGE Alaska about the training offered by Ross Murray, Senior Director of Education and Training at GLAAD. “What jumped out to me was the power of personal stories, a technique that makes a campaign more effective.”

Possibly the most important aspect of this year’s SAGENet meeting was offering the affiliates an opportunity to exchange ideas. “I love to hear about all the wonderful work the other affiliates are doing around the country to make the lives of our LGBT pioneers and advocates better and more fulfilling,” says Marissa Burns of SAGE Milwaukee. “And I love being able to share my experiences in return.”

As with all SAGENet events, there was plenty of time to socialize, this year over ice cream, gourmet doughnuts, and a lavish cocktail party hosted by Glen Ulmer and Marcelo Santibanez in their home, where No Apology from the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus gave a surprise performance.

 

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Seated, from left: SAGE Metro Portland's Max Micozzi and Portland State University's Alan DeLaTorre. Standing, from left: SAGE's Sterling Herr,
SAGE's Serena Worthington, and AARP's Bandana Shrestha.


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Clockwise, from left: SAGE Albuquerque's Havens Levitt, SAGE  of PROMO Fund's Dan Stewart, SAGE of the Rockies' Reynaldo Mireles,
SAGE Cleveland's Mary Beth Bartholomew, SAGE Metro Detroit's Pat Baldwin, SAGE's Bill Gross, and SAGE Center on Halsted's Todd Williams.

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Clockwise, from left: SAGE Tulsa's Olivia Cotter, SAGE Milwaukee's Marissa Burns, SAGE's Karalin Sprague,
GLAAD's Ross Murray, and SAGE of the Desert's Candice Nichols.

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 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