SAGE Celebrates the Resilience of LGBTQ+ Elders in the Time of COVID-19


SAGE honored the persistent spirit of LGBTQ+ pioneers across the country at its annual gala 

[New York, NY] Last night, SAGE, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, hosted its 25th annual SAGE Awards & Gala. The event – which required all attendees to show proof of vaccination – honored the resiliency of the LGBTQ+ elder community and celebrated the generous supporters who fueled SAGE’s tireless advocacy and critical life-saving services throughout the pandemic. Award recipients included Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Watermark Retirement Communities.

“It’s been two years since our last in-person SAGE Awards & Gala. Last night’s event was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with members of the SAGE community and celebrate the fortitude our elders have exhibited over the last 18 months,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “As October is LGBTQ+ History Month, it was especially fitting to look back and honor the enduring resilience of our elder pioneers.  From U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, to Watermark Retirement Communities, to “sages” from all across the country, it is thrilling to share the stories of trailblazers who are proving that LGBTQ+ elders refuse to be invisible.”

SAGE CEO Michael Adams (center) and SAGE Board Co-Chairs Dr. Kevin Williams and Elizabeth Schwartz
©SAGE and Jeff Eason

As the recipient of the SAGE Pioneer Award, Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, heartfully shared, “I want all of you to know that I have your back too, and will do everything I can to support and advocate for our community. The future for our community is brighter, but we have not made progress unless we have made progress for all.” Levine continued, “Together we must strongly advocate for the most underserved and marginalized in our community, including our LGBTQ+ elders.”

Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine
©SAGE and Kamila Harris Photography 

Jennifer Tapner represented Watermark Retirement Communities and accepted the Jack Watters Corporate Advocate Award. Tapner shared, “Watermark is an inclusive company. “In addition to shining a deserved spotlight on LGBTQ+ elder stories through the Not Another Second exhibit, our SAGECare credentialing has been pivotal in helping us to ensure that we are welcoming to all and providing the very best care to each individual.”

Jennifer Tapner
©SAGE and Kamila Harris Photography 

SAGE also received an uplifting message of support from New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “The challenges of aging are not kind to anyone, and LGBTQ seniors face particular challenges,” Hochul said. “SAGE has the sensitivity and the know-how that sets the standard for enabling LGBTQ seniors to live with dignity and respect.”

Paulette and Pat Martin
©SAGE and Jeff Eason 

The crowd was inspired by the words of Pat and Paulette Martin, SAGE constituents who are passionate leaders for older LGBTQ+ people. Paulette shared, “It’s been so important to Pat and me to show representation of what people our age can do, what women of color can do, what LGBTQ+ people can do.” Pat added, “When we older people have a platform to share our stories, we can help people who may not feel seen be seen. SAGE has given us a platform to share our voices and we are grateful.”

SAGE will continue to advocate with and on behalf of LGBTQ+ elders like Pat and Paulette, ensuring they get the support and services they need so they can age with the respect and dignity they deserve.

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SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (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 sageusa.org.

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