SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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SAGE In the News

October 19, 2011

NYC home to nation's first LGBT senior center SAGE

The Examiner
By Stacey Doyle
Always ahead of the crowd, New York City will be home to the first full-time LGBT Senior Center in the nation. In January, the Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) will open its doors. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Department for Aging (DFTA) awarded SAGE an “Innovative Senior Center” (ISC) contract for the project.

The Center will be based in Manhattan and serve LGBT seniors in all five New York City boroughs. Instinct Magazine reports Mayor Bloomberg stated, “The needs of seniors have evolved since centers were created 50 years ago and now is the time to re-envision the one-size-fits-all approach that has traditionally shaped many of our centers.”

Catherine Thurston, SAGE Senior Director of Programming, said, “For elderly people who are also LGBT, going to traditional senior centers can pose a variety of unique challenges. Many LGBT elderly say they feel they've encountered discrimination, anything from simply feeling excluded to something more overt. If you cannot authentically be who you are at this stage of your life, it's really tragic.”

According to Towleroad, SAGE already provides a robust selection of programs at the LGBT Community Center and SAGE Harlem. The new Senior Center will offer an array of additional programs covering health and wellness, social activities and work skills. They will also offer hot meals and social services.

Director of SAGE, Michael Adams, said, “SAGE is honored to have this opportunity to stregthen the programs and services we offer to address the unique needs of LGBT older people in New York City. Opening the SAGE Center has been our dream for many years. We are thrilled to be part of a bold initiative that emphasizes innovation in aging services; SAGE is committed to building program models that can be replicated in New York City and nationwide.

LGBT seniors have concerns that will be addressed by the opening of the SAGE Center in NYC. According to Just Out, up to 10 percent of the general population is LGBT with gay elders expecting to reach about 3 to 7 million. Poverty rates for male same-sex couples over 65 are 4.9 percent and female same-sex couples over 65 are 9.1 percent as opposed to a the 4.6 percent poverty rate for same-sex couples over 65.

Additionally, a study in 1994 revealed 50 percent of LGBT elders felt they would not be welcomed at a mainstream senior center if people knew their sexual orientation. When this study was updated, there was no notable change in this perception as of 2010. Portacalone reports the MetLife “Out and Aging Study” found 75 percent of LGBT seniors live alone. They are also four times less likely to have children than heterosexual seniors, leaving many with no children to take care of them. However, 53 percent of LGBT adults provide care for relatives.

NYC LGBT elders need the support and resources offered by the new SAGE Center. The city that never sleeps was wide awake when they realized the needs of LGBT seniors. NYC is sure to set an example for cities across the nation.

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