SAGE celebrates 40 years of Pride

40 fierce years and counting

We’re celebrating 40 years of being there for LGBT elders. Help us celebrate 40 more.

Cheers to 40 years of community

See why SAGE participant Alston Green says, “I’m grateful to have a place like SAGE.”

Show/hide video transcript

What does SAGE mean?

PERSON 1: What it means to me is, it’s wonderful to be able to have a place where elders or older gays and lesbians can come, a place where we can feel free, a place where we can gather as community.

PERSON 2: SAGE was started 40 years ago. So this small group of community activists came together, really to make a difference, and to work together to change that, and that was the beginning of SAGE.

PERSON 3: I was around for the beginning of this old journey for the LGBTQ community, and you know, when you’re young you don’t realize the importance it is to have a place for older adults and especially older LGBTQ. Now that I am an older adult and I’m grateful that they have a place like SAGE.

PERSON 2:  When older folks are members of the LGBTQ community, they face a number of significant challenges and probably at the top of the list are very severe levels of social isolation, which comes from the fact that most LGBT elders are not parents and so as they age they don’t have adult sons, adult daughters to be present and help support them in their aging. They’re also much more likely to age single and living alone in many cases. Care providers, elder services providers really aren’t equipped with the knowledge, the skills that they need to do a good job in providing services and care, and so they can’t find the care that they need. Unfortunately, it is still the case that many times LGBT elders confront discrimination. Even though we still face discrimination, and still face marginalization, there has been substantial progress. There is a much greater level of social acceptance of LGBT people. It’s been achieved in the last 40 years. There are more legal protections and a recognition of marriage equality. So there has been very very substantial progress.

PERSON 2: SAGE, fortunately it was started like in 1979, I think it was 79, so that’s really roughly 10 years after the beginning of the Stonewall, you know the beginning of the gay revolution. So the idea, they had a focus that was necessary for older adults. Then elders LGBTQ population was really very important, but you know when I was younger I didn’t realize it, but I’m so grateful that it’s here now. I really am very grateful.

Celebrating wisdom and perseverance

LGBT people have seen incredible progress over the past 40 years. It took fierce advocacy by our pioneers—our elders—to secure so many victories against bigotry and ignorance. We stand with them now and always.

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Our founders

Find out how they created the organization in 1978.

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SAGEMatters 40th anniversary issue

Read inspiring interviews and more.

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SAGE’s bright future

Help us support LGBT elders for 40 more years.

Explore our timeline

See how we’ve evolved over the past 40 years, from information and referrals to socializing and dances to national advocacy and services.

First community meeting and Certificate of Incorporation

1978
First community meeting and Certificate of Incorporation

SAGE begins social programs and becomes incorporated with the State of New York as Senior Action in a Gay Environment, Inc.

Nation’s first Friendly Visitor program

1979
Nation’s first Friendly Visitor program

SAGE pilots a volunteer program that matches volunteers from the community with LGBT older adults

Jim Flanagan named first Executive Director

1980
Jim Flanagan named first Executive Director

Flanagan led SAGE’s efforts for two years

Move to 208 West 13th Street

1981
Move to 208 West 13th Street

Currently home to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, SAGE still holds some programs here

Ken Dawson Becomes Executive Director

1982
Ken Dawson Becomes Executive Director

Dawson shifts SAGE’s focus to activism and self-help

Receives Gerontologist Award for Achievement in Advocacy or Service

1983
Receives Gerontologist Award for Achievement in Advocacy or Service

SAGE is declared a national prototype of supportive services for LGBT elders

Opens drop-in center for LGBT seniors

1984
Opens drop-in center for LGBT seniors

SAGE’s drop-in center for LGBT older people is the nation’s first of its kind

Barbara Emmerth named SAGE’s third Executive Director

1987
Barbara Emmerth named SAGE’s third Executive Director

First woman to hold the position

Friendly Visitor program mobilizes to help during AIDS crisis

1988
Friendly Visitor program mobilizes to help during AIDS crisis

SAGE organizes 75 volunteer friendly visitors to meet the needs of homebound elders amidst the AIDS crisis    

Establishes AIDS and the Elderly program

1989
Establishes AIDS and the Elderly program

SAGE’s was the first program of its kind in the United States

Scott Borden and Arlene Kochman named Co-Executive Directors

1990
Scott Borden and Arlene Kochman named Co-Executive Directors

Equal positions: Borden leads Finances/Development and Kochman leads Program/Public Education. Kochman named fifth Executive Director in 1991

Launch of national network of affiliates

1992
Launch of national network of affiliates

SAGE affiliate network begins and holds its first conference

Movie about SAGE participants nominated for Academy Award

1993
Movie about SAGE participants nominated for Academy Award

“For Better or Worse” featured longtime SAGE supporters Gean Harwood and Bruhs Mero

Headquarters opens at 305 7th Avenue, NYC

1995
Headquarters opens at 305 7th Avenue, NYC

Still SAGE’s HQ, as well as the location of the Edie Windsor SAGE Center

Richard Bannin succeeded in short order by Terry Kaelber as ED

1997
Richard Bannin succeeded in short order by Terry Kaelber as ED

The Executive Directors were SAGE’s 6th and 7th, respectively

Hosts first National Conference on Aging

1998
Hosts first National Conference on Aging

SAGE welcomes service providers, activists, and researchers from across the country

Full-page ad in New York Times

2000
Full-page ad in New York Times

Advertises its services to readers

Receives NYC City Council grant for nation’s first senior center for LGBT people

2000
Receives NYC City Council grant for nation’s first senior center for LGBT people

Continuing its series of firsts, this grant establishes SAGE as having the first full-service senior center for LGBT people in the United States

Acronym changed to “Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders”

2004
Acronym changed to “Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders”

Explicitly incorporates lesbian, bisexual, and transgender into SAGE’s mission and name

Sole LGBT delegate at White House Conference on Aging

2005
Sole LGBT delegate at White House Conference on Aging

Only LGBT representative at 2005 White House Conference on Aging

Michael Adams named SAGE’s 8th Executive Director

2006
Michael Adams named SAGE’s 8th Executive Director

Adams addresses financial difficulties and strengthens the organization’s infrastructure; he remains in the role today

Launch of “SAGE Is” marketing campaign

2008
Launch of “SAGE Is” marketing campaign

Buzzy, award-winning ad campaign timed to SAGE’s hosting of the 4th National Conference on LGBT Aging

Receives $1 million award from Calamus Foundation

2008
Receives $1 million award from Calamus Foundation

SAGE’s 30th anniversary motivated donation from the foundation, which focuses on care and support services to the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS

SAGE Harlem opens its doors

2009
SAGE Harlem opens its doors

SAGE Center Harlem opens in the historic Theresa Hotel, strengthening SAGE’s responsiveness to communities of color

Named only LGBT member of Leadership Council of Aging Organizations

2009
Named only LGBT member of Leadership Council of Aging Organizations

Only LGBT member of coalition of the nation’s nonprofit organizations serving older Americans.

Founding member of Diverse Elders Coalition

2010
Founding member of Diverse Elders Coalition

As founding member of national Diverse Elders Coalition, helps organize Coalition’s first Capitol Hill briefing

Launches National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

2010
Launches National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awards SAGE a grant to establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, America’s first such center

Opens policy office in Washington, D.C.

2010
Opens policy office in Washington, D.C.

Proactive advocacy efforts

First Board members from outside NYC

2011
First Board members from outside NYC

Other locales include Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, and Los Angeles

First White House LGBT Conference on Aging

2012
First White House LGBT Conference on Aging

SAGE catalyzes national participation in the Obama Administration’s first-ever White House LGBT Conference on Aging

Releases report on transgender older adults

2012
Releases report on transgender older adults

With the National Center for Transgender Equality, SAGE releases a path-breaking report on transgender older adults

The SAGE Center in New York City opens

2012
The SAGE Center in New York City opens

Grand opening of the country’s first full-fledged, publicly funded senior center for LGBT elders

Files a key amicus brief in marriage equality Supreme Court case

2013
Files a key amicus brief in marriage equality Supreme Court case

SAGE joins American Society on Aging and other ally organizations in filing a key amicus brief providing LGBT elder perspective on marriage equality in Edie Windsor’s successful Supreme Court challenge

Releases Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color report

2013
Releases Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color report

SAGE releases a groundbreaking report on improving health and wellness for LGBT older people of color

Launches LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative

2014
Launches LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative

SAGE receives funding from New York State Legislature to launch LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative

Releases Out & Visible report

2014
Releases Out & Visible report

SAGE releases the first national market study on the experiences and perspectives of LGBT older adults

Wins major policy victories

2015
Wins major policy victories

SAGE wins major policy victories at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

Launches the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative

2015
Launches the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative

SAGE receives $250,000 from CITI and $1 million from the Calamus Foundation to expand its National LGBT Elder Housing Initiatives

New SAGE Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island

2015
New SAGE Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island

With support from the NYC Council, SAGE inaugurates new SAGE Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn (with GRIOT Circle), and Staten Island (with Pride Center of Staten Island)

Launches SAGECare cultural competency training

2016
Launches SAGECare cultural competency training

SAGECare is a training and credentialing program for care providers committed to offering LGBT-inclusive and culturally competent services

Announces NYC’s first LGBT elder housing

2016
Announces NYC’s first LGBT elder housing

Opening in 2019, Brooklyn’s Ingersoll Senior Residences—with more than 225 apartments and an on-site SAGE Center—will be NYC’s first LGBT-welcoming elder housing

Launches “We Refuse to Be Invisible” Campaign

2017
Launches “We Refuse to Be Invisible” Campaign

National advocacy campaign forces Trump administration to abandon plans to erase LGB elders from evaluation of federal elders; followed by trans-specific campaign

First SAGE Table

2017
First SAGE Table

Initiative to build ties across LGBT generations gathers 3,500 people nationally for one-day event

Dedication of Edie Windsor SAGE Center

2017
Dedication of Edie Windsor SAGE Center

SAGE Center Midtown renamed Edie Windsor SAGE Center in honor of former Board member and beloved particpant

Presents LGBT program track at global conference

2018
Presents LGBT program track at global conference

SAGE partners with International Federation on Aging (IFA) to present first-ever LGBT program track at global conference

LET’S CELEBRATE TOGETHER Do you have a SAGE story to tell or photo to share? Tell us about it!

  • Jerre Kalbas, SAGE founding member

    At the age of 60, I became a founding member of SAGE. In 1985, I organized SAGE’s first Women’s Dance. We had an idea it would take off, and it did!

    — Jerre Kalbas, SAGE founding member
  • Chris Almvig, SAGE co-founder

    We always said that “community means taking care of our most vulnerable.” I see SAGE taking that to a larger level with their federal advocacy efforts.

    — Chris Almvig, SAGE co-founder