Chicago Trans Trailblazer Gloria Allen to Receive Newly Named SAGE Award in Memory of Carmen Vázquez

Mama Gloria will receive the Carmen Vázquez SAGE Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues at Creating Change

[New York, NY] SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, will present Gloria Allen, known as “Mama Gloria,” with the Carmen Vázquez SAGE Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues at this year’s National LGBTQ+ Task Force Creating Change virtual conference. The award is presented to an LGBTQ+ elder for their leadership and advocacy. The award is newly named to honor the memory of Carmen Vázquez, last year’s recipient of the award. Carmen was a long-time LGBTQ+ and social justice activist who passed away on January 27, 2021, due to COVID-19 related complications.

Mama Gloria is an icon in Chicago and an inspiration and mentor to the city’s Black transgender community. Coming out four years before the Stonewall uprising, Mama Gloria never imagined she would make it past 40, let alone 70. She was immersed in Chicago’s South Side drag ball culture in the 1960s and overcame traumatic violence. Her experience inspired her to become a proud leader, activist and mentor in her community. Which is why, in her elder years, Mama Gloria founded and operated a charm school for homeless transgender youth at Chicago’s Center on Halsted, offering lessons on love, makeup and manners that she received from her mother and grandmother. She is also the subject of Luchina Fisher’s documentary “Mama Gloria,” which chronicles her life and highlights the influential relationships she has with her family, friends, and chosen children.

Mama Gloria’s influence on younger generations highlights the very spirit of last year’s honoree, Carmen Vázquez, in whose memory the award is named. In last year’s acceptance speech, Carmen shared, “Change is never about one person alone, there are countless others who paved the way for my activism, and countless others who will follow me and build a bridge to the future…we are and always will be an intergenerational movement and we should act that way.”

“We are honored to present the Carmen Vázquez SAGE Award to Mama Gloria – a mentor for many and an example that future generations can look up to,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Like Carmen, Mama Gloria is a shining example of one of the countless inspiring, vibrant, and resilient LGBTQ+ pioneers who have been advocating since Stonewall – many who are trans people are color – and still passionately and doggedly pressing for change.”

This year’s National LGBTQ+ Task Force Creating Change conference will be held virtually for the first time beginning on January 28, 2021 and the award ceremony will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021.


SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ+ older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBTQ+ elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at