March 13, 2018

Confronting AIDS and Coming Out Taught Us How to Age Well

By John-Manuel Andriote


A first-ever survey in 2013 of LGBT San Francisco residents aged 60 to 92 found something startling: 15 percent of the 612 respondents had “seriously considered” committing suicide within the last 12 months. Commissioned by the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, the study found high degrees of disability as well as poor physical and mental health—both of which are associated with depression. The researchers were understandably concerned by the high percentage of LGBT seniors who had considered suicide.

But look at the numbers in a different way: 85 percent of the respondents did not consider suicide. What’s up with them? Are these folks healthier in general? How are they coping with being “old” and the changes and challenges that go along with it? Could it be that aging means something different to them?

Golden Men

In 2000, New York psychotherapist Harold Kooden and his coauthor Charles Flowers published a book that for many gay men, including me, was revolutionary in its candor and wisdom about growing older. Golden Men: The Power of Gay Midlife not only dared to say, loud and proud, there is life after 30. And not only are a whole lot of gay men living it with great gusto, but you (young and not-as-young gay man) can, too.

In an interview for my new book Stonewall Strong, Kooden told me the impetus for Golden Men “was to write a book for gay men to celebrate aging.” Gay men have a “wealth of experience where it comes to thriving and development,” he said. “Successful aging means looking at one’s history—pain, successes—and removing the false perceptions, the clouds, to look at the reality of our lives. It’s about becoming conscious and aware. Unless you become aware of the negatives, you don’t become aware of the positives.”

Hard-Earned Wisdom from AIDS

Ken South was the president of Prime Timers of Washington, D.C., for 15 years before moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2016 (he continues to be involved with the group). In an interview for Stonewall Strong, South reflected on his experience of aging as one of the men whose generation was hardest hit in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. He has worked professionally on HIV/AIDS since the darkest years of the epidemic in the early 1980s. “I never thought in my thirties, forties, and fifties I’d be looking at the obits in the paper,” he said. “That’s something that old people do, looking to see if their friends have passed away. Now that the epidemic has changed, people are dying of other things besides AIDS. I’m now in the senior cohort. In some ways it has helped me to be more self-reliant. It certainly has helped me appreciate the meaning of life, that life is very precious.”

Coming Out Gave Us the Tools We Need to Age Well

Coming out as gay men provides us with powerful weapons we can use in slaying the demon of what UCLA researcher Richard Wight calls “internalized gay ageism.” Throwing off the shame and stigma we were expected to feel for being “different” prepared us to do the same in rejecting stigmatizing attitudes about aging. We are survivors in so many ways—living with HIV or not.

Naming it and claiming our power as survivors is up to each of us.

“In the stories we tell of our lives,” said Brian de Vries, professor of gerontology at San Francisco State University in an interview for Stonewall Strong, “as gay men, as survivors, the victims story is one of discontinuity, how we’re not what we ‘should’ be because of all these things. The victory story is one that sees the ways we can grow from them. It provides hope, direction, and allows you to learn from the experiences.”

Hear more from John-Manuel Andriote when he speaks at the Edie Windsor SAGE Center on Monday, March 26, 2018, at 6:45 pm, on the topic of Defining “Old” for Ourselves.  

Andriote’s newest book, Stonewall Strong: Gay Men’s Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2017. Andriote, a longtime health and medical journalist, also is the author of Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America (University of Chicago Press, 1999; updated 2011). His personal website is

March 12, 2018

Long-Term Care Administrators and LGBT Aging Training

Older womrnBy Tim Johnson, Director of National Projects

This week is Long-Term Care Administrators Week. In my capacity leading the day-to-day activities of SAGECare—which provides training and consulting on LGBT aging issues to service providers—and as a trainer myself, I have had the pleasure of working with administrators across the country.

After years spent leading our training efforts, I am certain that creating an inclusive environment for LGBT older adults requires instruction, partnership, and—importantly—support from administrators.

SAGECare's goal is to make sure that LGBT older adults and their loved ones are treated with respect no matter where they live. One way we accomplish this is by training every staff person working in a long-term care community. This training is essential, but it's also just the first step. It is the leadership of ally administrators (and their teams) that takes the training and bakes it into the culture of a community and of its staff.

That is why I am thankful for administrators who go above and beyond to put in the time, energy, and effort it takes to make sure that their staffs have the skills and knowledge to affirm LGBT elders.

As a division of SAGE, SAGECare is part of the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults. Visit for more information on SAGECare's LGBT aging training. 

March 8, 2018

Op-Ed: Standing Up for America’s LGBT Elders

By U.S. Senator Bob Casey (PA), Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging

Senator Casey - Close Up

Older LGBT Americans continue to pave the way for equality. They display perseverance and courage, and regardless of the obstacles, they fight against discrimination and stand up to bigotry—and they have done so for their entire lives. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is attempting to roll back many of the hard-fought gains made by the LGBT community over the years.

It is for that reason that I have been using the resources available to me as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to fight on behalf of the millions of LGBT Americans age 65 and older.

Faced with prejudicial social stigma, this population experiences unique challenges that are often overlooked, including higher poverty rates, difficulty accessing health care, and social isolation. Older LGBT Americans may be less willing than younger generations to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identify, either out of generational norms or a life experience of discrimination. This can be particularly prevalent for older LGBT Americans entering senior living facilities.

When the Trump administration attempted to undermine the rights of LGBT elders by removing them from key survey questions concerning the LGBT community, I took action, alongside SAGE and Human Rights Campaign, among others. In June, the administration heeded my calls and announced it would continue surveying the needs of older lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans who receive services through key programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently, I hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill with SAGE to educate congressional staff about the unique issues facing older LGBT adults. During the briefing, representatives from SAGE, Movement Advancement Project, Human Rights Campaign and Mary’s House for Older Adults highlighted issues that included visitation rights for unmarried partners in medical facilities, health care for older Americans with HIV/AIDS, and a lack of resources and cultural understanding of the needs of rural LGBT seniors. 

Our work to secure equality for LGBT Americans is not done. The gains achieved by the LGBT community through years of hard work and perseverance are not set in stone. And with the number of LGBT Americans age 65+ expected to double by 2030, new challenges will continue to emerge. That’s why I will continue fighting to ensure that this administration recognizes and supports the rights of LGBT Americans of all ages.

February 1, 2018

SAGE Celebrates Black History Month 2018

BHM homepage

Happy Black History Month!

Throughout February, we will be profiling SAGE participants of color as well as prominent LGBT African-Americans including Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and Marsha P. Johnson.

As we shine a spotlight to honor them, we recognize that the legacies of these individuals live on in many ways. We see their work carrying on at places like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project—a legal aid organization that serves LGBT people of color—and the Audre Lorde Project, an LGBT community organizing center in New York.

By showcasing stories from SAGE constituents of color all month, we hope to provide some insight into what it’s like to live at the intersection of African-American, LGBT, and older adult identities.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you don’t miss a second of our coverage this month. —Grace Jones

January 25, 2018

Join the Age-Friendly Pride Movement

The Welcome to Pride InitiativeWelcome-to-pride-pic, created by SAGE with the generous support of AARP, is a partnership among SAGE, Centerlink, Heritage of Pride, InterPride, and The Center for Black Equity. We launched Welcome to Pride to share how Pride organizers across the country are making Pride celebrations age-friendly, enabling people of all ages to actively participate in community activities and treating everyone with respect. 

Organizations that wish to publicly affirm their commitment to maintaining or increasing the age-friendliness of their events are encouraged to sign the Age-Friendly Pride Pledge. Want to be one of the first 100 organizations to sign on? Just sign the Age-Friendly Pride Pledge! You'll be listed on our website and in our Welcome to Pride Guide. 

We would also be grateful if you took a few minutes to complete a brief survey, the results of which will help us develop age-friendly Pride materials that we hope to use to increase the age-friendliness of Prides across the country. Thank you in advance for taking the time to give us your feedback!

Take the Pride Pledge>>

Take the Pride Participant Survey>>

Take the Pride Planner, Sponsor, and Organizer Survey>>

January 10, 2018

Talk About Home Healthcare – Enter to Win $50!

Got time to talk about healthcare_

Have you hired a home care worker for yourself or a loved one in the past few years? Do you anticipate needing to so do soon? If so, you're eligible to win a $50 gift card!

To enter, all you need to do is participate in a 15-minute phone interview with a member of SAGE’s staff to discuss your experience with home care workers. Email to get started!

Yes, I'll participate in a 15-minute phone interview and enter to win $50! >>

Note: All participants will be entered to win a $50 Mastercard gift card. The winner will be chosen at random.

January 3, 2018

The data behind fostering intergenerational connections in the LGBT community


Did you know that only 21.7 percent of surveyed LGBT people of all ages know who will take care of them when they’re older? No one did—until we asked.

In 2016, SAGE conducted a detailed literature review on cross-generational LGBT relationships and uncovered a distinct lack of research and methodology on intergenerational community building. In order to bring to understand the unique issues faced when fostering multigenerational LGBT communities, we launched SAGE Table in the spring of the following year. Thanks to the partnership of social-science firm interstitio and support from AARP, we were able to devote time to rigorous research and analysis in order to make our learnings available to all.

Read and download the research summary of our pilot program to convene intergenerational groups in the service of fostering connections and building community within different age groups of the LGBT family. It is SAGE’s hope that creating resources like this one will allow communities of LGBT people and allies anywhere to develop intentional intergenerational events and build bridges within our communities, no matter where we are.

If you have thoughts or questions on our research, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at


December 22, 2017

SAGE Harlem: New Year, New Space


SAGE Harlem has moved! As of Wednesday, January 10, 2018, SAGE Harlem will be located at 220 West 143rd Street (entrance mid-block on 142nd St. between Frederick Douglass Blvd. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd). See the map below (click to enlarge).

Sage harlem map


Download the January event highlights and meal calendar. The full events calendar is below (click to enlarge):

Harlem calendar


Participants can also visit our four other SAGE Centers in the city: 

Edie Windsor SAGE Center (formerly SAGE Center Midtown)
305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 646-576-8669

SAGE Center Bronx
Union Community Health Center
260 East 188th Street
Bronx, NY 10458
Phone: 718-960-3354

SAGE-Pride Center of Staten Island
25 Victory Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: 718-808-1365

GRIOT Circle, Inc.
25 Flatbush Avenue, 5th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: 718-246-2775

Or visit other nearby senior centers:
























December 19, 2017

Pat Baldwin: Advocating for LGBTQ Elders in Michigan

Pat_BaldwinFive years ago, Pat Baldwin walked into the office of the executive director at the Hannan Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the dignity of elders in the state of Michigan, and took a seat. Pat, who is the director of the Hannan Center for Lifelong Learning, wanted to speak with the foundation’s director about an issue close to her heart—an issue for which she knew Hannan was uniquely suited to make a difference.

Having worked with older adults and the aging population at Hannan for the past 17 years, Pat recalls that she had seen an increase in troubling situations where LGBTQ people faced rampant discrimination or, more often, experienced almost complete invisibility.

"In the Detroit area, I knew that in senior centers and places where seniors go for programming, there wasn't really any mention at all of LGBTQ elders," Pat says. "I wanted to change that. I wanted to concentrate on being inclusive to the elders in the LGBTQ community.”

The Hannan Foundation, which has a long history as an innovative, trailblazing leader committed to the needs of LGBTQ older adults, saw the gap in the Detroit area and set to work on filling it.

"At the board level, we started with something as simple as changing the language in our publications to be as inclusive as possible to LGBTQ people," Pat explains. "We started including language that we were 'open and affirming,' and we took the time to tell our participants what this all means. We changed HR information, made sure we as an organization took a proactive stance for LGBTQ people in our non-discrimination policy, provided diversity and inclusion training, and worked to be sure LGBTQ elders were comfortable."

This attention can help a person recognize their own self-worth and feel a sense of belonging to a community, Pat explains. And while many LGBTQ young people have been embraced and supported by friends and family members, LGBTQ elders grew up in a different generation where they may have lacked a support system, experienced financial disparities, or feared reprisal if they came out as LGBTQ.

"I've had LGBTQ people tell me that they feel very comfortable here, and that makes me feel good," Pat says. "I want to be sure everyone is cared for."

Pushing for Non-Discrimination Protections at the Local Level 

Even though advocates like Pat have been stepping up for their communities across the nation, the reality is that in Michigan, just like in 31 other states, LGBTQ people are not fully and explicitly protected from discrimination.

"I was appalled to know that here in Michigan, the Elliott-Larsen Act did not cover the civil rights of people in the LGBTQ community," Pat says. As a lifelong resident of Detroit, Pat says it’s important to her that this situation change. She's proud of her city and her state, and she wants to ensure that no one fears discrimination in their local community.

Pat Baldwin Kara Sprague

Pat credits an attorney friend with introducing her to some of the challenges LGBTQ elders endure because of the scarcity of non-discrimination laws. "She was the spark that lit my fire," Pat says about her friend, recalling an anecdote about a transgender person whose guardianship was granted to someone who did not support their gender identity and subsequently saw their hormones withheld and gender-affirming medical care held hostage.

"Some of these stories made me think about how that would feel—how personnel and staff treat people sometimes, and how we could do better," she says. "Then I started being more cognizant, aware, and intentional about wanting to be a better advocate."

Pat has been an advocate for LGBTQ people in Michigan for many years, most prominently as a board member of SAGE Metro-Detroit. SAGE is the nation’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, and Pat says she is thrilled to help it make a positive impact.

"I'm very proud and very humbled to be a part of SAGE," Pat says. "This is very important work, and I'm so happy to be a part of it."

Today, part of that work is focused on securing inclusive protections for the LGBTQ community in Michigan, whether it’s creating an equitable workplace, finding welcoming housing, or seeking business services.

"It would be monumental if the Elliott-Larsen Act were amended to prohibit discrimination based on LGBTQ identity," Pat says, although she adds that enforcing the law involves its own set of challenges. Increasing public support and educating more Michiganders about LGBTQ people and the discrimination they face is a central need. "But if we passed the law, it would show that we're a very forward-thinking state and that we have recognized that this is the right thing to do. It should have been done a long time ago."

Shaped by Family & Faith

Pat is an ally of the LGBTQ community who identifies as straight, is married to a man, and has four children and five grandchildren. What’s more, she recognizes the importance of non-LGBTQ people standing up and speaking out in favor of equal treatment.

She recalls one story that illustrates the importance of treating everyone equally. When Pat was younger, her cousin began transitioning from male to female, and at one point, they sat Pat and her mother down to announce the news.

"My mom was very nonchalant about it all, and after my cousin talked and said what she needed, my mom said, 'I love you. I want you to be happy, whatever that is.' I really appreciated that," Pat says. “For her to say that was good at the time, of course, but it was also important for me to hear that. It was nice to see that my mom was happy that my cousin was happy to be the person that they're meant to be. That set a good example for me." 

Pat also says she finds strength in her faith. "I know that the Jesus I serve is one who loves everyone for who they are," she says. Pat recognizes that the official policies of some religious officials contradict that view, but she sees a change in the future. "The bottom line is that people from the LGBTQ community should be able to be their authentic selves," she says. "You have to just stay true to what you know." —Adam Polaski, Freedom for All Americans

December 5, 2017

Equality Is Not a Cakewalk for LGBT Elders

SAGE’s Director of Advocacy, Aaron Tax, and Dr. Imani Woody—LGBTQ activist and founder of Mary’s House, the first LGTBQ senior housing development in Washington, D.C.—spoke at the ACLU’s rally on the Supreme Court steps before opening arguments for the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado on December 5, 2017. Below are their remarks.


Equality Is Not a Cakewalk for LGBT Elders

Good morning! I’m Aaron Tax, the Director of Advocacy at SAGE. We are the nation’s largest and oldest advocacy and services organization for LGBT older adults.

Why are we here today? It’s because the opportunity for LGBT older adults to grow old with the dignity and support they need and deserve is fundamentally at risk in this case.    

When LGBT older adults get a meal at a senior center, enter long-term care, or seek funeral arrangements for a loved one, make no mistake, none of those institutions are making a statement about LGBT people.

Why? Because these institutions are open to the public. And they and their employees are simply serving the public.

We all agree businesses can make decisions about what kinds of products or services they provide—but they cannot pick and choose whom they serve. A senior center can choose to open its doors to seniors, it can offer canasta or bingo, or, let’s hope, something much more interesting. But it can’t decide to serve only people of certain religions or races, or specific sexual orientations or gender identities, but not others.   

If we allow businesses to exempt themselves from laws barring discrimination, we’d return to a time when businesses open to the public engaged in outright discrimination against people for all sorts of reasons. 

We, as a nation, decided to close that chapter of our history, which is why we have laws that ensure businesses don’t discriminate among customers based on who they are.

At SAGE, we know that LGBT older adults can’t afford to go back to a time when businesses, aging providers, and others, could display a sign in their window saying, “LGBT elders not served here.” That’s not the society we want to live in. And perhaps more importantly, our Constitution doesn’t protect that kind of discrimination. Thank you.


We Cannot Turn the Clock Back to a Time When Discrimination Was Legal

I’m Imani Woody. I’m a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and an elder lesbian of African descent.

This case is a personal one to me, because we all know that it goes beyond cake and wedding planners. My ability to go to a restaurant, catch a cab, go to the doctor, or even just go to the movies with my wife are threatened if people can use their religion as a license to discriminate.

In the ’60s, people used race to discriminate against my family and not allow my mother, who was deathly ill, to be treated at a hospital that was nearby. Because of this discrimination, my father drove us—his five children and his wife—to a hospital that accepted colored people. However, it was too late to save my mother; she died that night. I was 10.

And when my brother died of complications associated with AIDS, the funeral home refused to pick up his body from the hospital—this was after my father had pre-paid funeral arrangements.

So, I know firsthand the havoc discrimination can cause on families and individuals. No matter who you are—you and I, and everyone here today—has a right to equal treatment under the law.

Many LGBT older adults are not as lucky as I am. I am fortunate to have a wife and family. And I have a home. But many LGBT elders can’t be here today on the steps of the Supreme Court. Many of us don’t have family to rely on. Many can’t get to the grocery store, can’t get a meal, or can’t get to the doctor without the assistance of paid businesses. Unfortunately, many of the people and organizations we rely on as we get older are religiously affiliated.  

I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t want to live my life—and I know I can’t live my life—in a world where I never know if my next meal or my next visit to the doctor might be stopped in its tracks because someone wants to use their religion as a license to discriminate against me—because I’m a woman, because I’m Black, or because I’m a lesbian.

The Constitution does not give landlords, senior centers, nursing homes, or hospitals the right to put a sign outside that says “Straight people only.” That’s not my country. And I know that most of us don’t want to live in an America like that either.

By being here today, I’m giving voice to other LGBTQ/SGL elders who share their plight and can’t be here today. And I’m asking the Supreme Court to do the right thing and not turn the clock back to the time of earlier legal discrimination, where children lost their mother, a father lost consideration for a burial, and where people lose their quality of life because discrimination is again legalized. Thank you.