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12.18.2014
SAGE Story


LGBT Stories about Social Isolation

AARP Foundation
While many LGBT older people are at risk of social isolation due to smaller support networks and histories of discrimination, others are finding inspiring ways to create supportive communities and stay healthy and engaged. With the support of the AARP Foundation, SAGE reached out to LGBT older people nationwide to share their stories of social support and reducing isolation. Our SAGE Story workshop program in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and New York imparted storytelling skills while reducing isolation among elders in those areas. And our national storytelling contest during LGBT History Month in 2013 yielded powerful reminders that LGBT older people embody a hard-earned resilience that manages the challenges that affect too many of us as we age. We invite you to take a tour through their stories.

LGBT older couples tell us why Social Isolation is important to them—read their stories, see the photos, watch their videos, listen to their voices.

Interested in learning more about Social Isolation and LGBT older adults? Visit our issue page on Social Isolation!



Watch their Videos

SAGE Story: Cheryl & Elizabeth
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Cheryl and Elizabeth tell of how they met and how their faith in religion, and each other, keep them connected.


SAGE Story: Linda
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Linda talks about encountering homophobia in North Carolina after moving back home with her partner and how she became involved in social justice and equality.


SAGE Story: Lynette
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Lynette talks about the murder of her friend Talana, a lesbian who wasn't allowed a burial in any of the local churches, and how her death spurred her to come out of the closet and become a local activist.


SAGE Story: Sherry
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Sherry talks about always being attracted to girls, but having to marry a man because of society's expectations. Eventually, she was able to come out and find herself.


SAGE Story: Debbie
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Debbie tells us how she conformed to fulfill society's expections because she knew that liking other girls wasn't acceptable and felt alone until she became an advocate for the AIDS movement


SAGE Story: Sonja
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Sonja tells us how she developed her first relationship with a woman and how after she shared her relationship status, feared for her life and that of her partner.


SAGE Story: Mona
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Mona knew at a very young age that she liked girls and after a teacher admonished her, she realized that it was “wrong” and hid her attraction. She eventually married a man, which she later divorced, and eventually managed to come out slowly, despite her fear of rejection.


SAGE Story: Dawn
Charlotte, North Carolina
WATCH

Dawn tells of how she knew she didn't belong in her male body as a child and how she surpressed that by getting married twice and having children. Eventually, she lost everything and realized that she needed to embrace herself and was able to finally find acceptance and peace.


SAGE Story: Alan
Charlotte, North Carolina
WATCH

Alan shares how he knew he was a homosexual, but his family and society pressures caused him to supress himself for years. At the age of 35 he finally came out after telling a friend how lonely and empty his life felt.


SAGE Story: Gwen
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Gwen shares her thoughts on coming out and how she alienated friends and her religious community for a long time.


SAGE Story: Frances
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Frances tells us how being a lesbian was difficult, but how she is now happy with her spouse and life.


SAGE Story: Brian
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Brian talks about growing up and coming out with respect and support by most of his family members, but how in college he had some difficulty with labeling.


SAGE Story: Barry
Charlotte, North Carolina
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Barry shares how he felt different growing up in the South because of his feelings for men and how he had to hide his sexuality.


SAGE Story: Les G.
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
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Les G. (63) shares how the ending of a relationship led him to feel isolated and alone until he decided to change his life and continue to go out and meet people. 


SAGE Story: Harry
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
WATCH

Harry tells us when he realized he was gay in college and the anxiety and self-loathing it caused him. After a visit to the campus psychiatrist, he buried his feelings and ended up married with a family. 50 years later, he was finally able to come out and feel more comfortable with his sexuality and found a community who accepted him.


SAGE Story: Lorraine
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
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Lorraine (51) shares her story about being a bisexual and feeling marginalized in the LGBT community.


SAGE Story: Rachael
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
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Rachael (73) tells us how she struggled growing up with the desire to dress as a female and eventually decided to make the change to transition. Her story is that of her relationship with her family and how it is strained because of her being transgender.

 


SAGE Story: Les S.
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
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Les (54) shares how he is both gay and part of a strong religious community that has helped him feel less isolated in his life.


SAGE Story: Paul
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
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While secretly dating man in rural county in NC, Paul is confronted with the possibility of being outed, which he believes would ruin his reputation and cause his patients to leave his dental practice. His journey from living in the closet to wanting to be “brave and a role model” involves the church organist, his hairdresser, and a patient with a big question.  


SAGE Story: Brad
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
WATCH

One day in the 1970’s Brad (51) walked across his college campus at mid-day holding hands with the man he loved. Was there name calling? Pointing? Stone throwing? Find out how this incident and the reaction of his mother and college friends to the news that he was gay, gave Brad a kind of armor for his later encounters with homophobia. 


SAGE Story: Glen
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
WATCH

Although he had known he was gay since he could remember, it wasn’t until after he married his female best friend and had three children that Glen (56) came out to his colleagues at his medical practice. Right after coming out to his co-worker, Glen finds himself in the office of his boss, whom he has heard use an anti-gay slur, and his boss is asking him, “What’s going on? Why are you so nervous?”  


SAGE Story: John
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
WATCH

Grieving and widowed after a 40-year heterosexual marriage, John finds himself not caring if he lived or died. His 26-month journey from suicidal and abusing alcohol to sober and happy to be alive is also a journey of bravery, friendship, community, and acceptance. As John (67) puts it, “the advantage of coming out late in life is that after knowing you for 40 years, people can’t reject you based on one new piece of information.”


SAGE Story: Thom
SAGE Raleigh, North Carolina
WATCH

Thom (71) learned that his uncle, a well-regarded professor and fellow veteran, was gay when Thom was 60 and his uncle was 80. Thom recalls that his uncle was fascinated by the idea that the day might come when gays could serve openly in the military.   

Years later, when his uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Thom arranged for 24-hour care. Thom always disclosed to the caretakers that both he and his uncle were gay and eight years passed without incident, that is until one caregiver decided that Thom’s uncle was “in jeopardy of his salvation.” What Thom learned in the investigation that followed is a harrowing example of how the people who care for our LGBT elders can do great harm and, conversely, how loving and accepting caregivers can save a man’s life. 


SAGE Story: John
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
WATCH

John talks about his children and how they are very important to him. Both his daughter and son accepted his coming out as a gay man when he was 40 (John was 64 at the time of filming in December of 2013) and are still very supportive.


SAGE Story: Ken
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Ken tells of how he and his partner became activists in the Wilmington community and started their own church to educate and accept all people -- LGBT and straight.


SAGE Story: Greg
SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina
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Greg shares his story of coming out and losing his family, community and employment. Despite these setbacks, he found community in Wilmington, North Carolina and is building his own circle of family.


SAGE & The Moth Present: Charles Fattone
New York, New York
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Charles talks about losing and finding the loves of his life.


White House Champion of Change: George Stewart
New York, New York
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George Stewart, a SAGE Harlem constituent, shares his life story and becomes a White House Champion of Change for LGBT issues.


SAGE Story: Jeanine
New York, New York
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Jeanine, a home-bound senior, shares her story about living alone with her dog and finding happiness with a SAGE Friendly Visitor.


SAGE Story: Evie
New York, New York
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Evie talks about coming out to her parents and how they did not accept her.


Ruth Debra from SAGE Golden Rainbow Center
Palm Springs, California
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Ruth Debra from the SAGE Golden Rainbow Center talks about the issues surrounding ageism at the 2010 SAGE National Constituent Conference.




See the Photos

Portland, OR | Read More


Portland, OR | Read More


Portland, OR | Read More


Portland, OR | Read More



Read their Stories
Photo of Rebeca V. Taub

Rebeca V. Taub

An Encounter With Change
New York, New York
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Photo of Kimberly Burnham, PhD

Kimberly Burnham, PhD

Red, White, Blue, and Yellow
West Hartford, CT
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Photo of Linda Bunker

Linda Bunker

Your Story Matters (Tell It)
Prospect, CT
READ MORE

Photo of Gary Harold

Gary Harold

Practicing Gratitude
Soquel, CA
READ MORE

Photo of Ray Harwick

Ray Harwick

A Caregiver's Story
Cathedral City, CA
READ MORE



Listen to their Voices

SAGE Story: Evie's Coming Out


SAGE Story: Richard Rhodes

SAGE Story

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