SAGE, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, is thrilled to celebrate National Honor Our LGBTQ+ Elders Day. Each year on May 16, SAGE is joined by organizations, community members, and allies across the country to celebrate and honor the pioneers of the LGBTQ+ movement – those who have been at the forefront of our fight for equality since the beginning.
This year, we are joining the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in celebrating Older Americans Month with the theme “Age My Way.” For a community that has faced a lifetime of discrimination, older LGBTQ+ people often face barriers when it comes to deciding where to live, where to get care, and how to stay connected to their community. LGBTQ+ older people are four times less likely to have children and twice as likely to be single, causing heightened rates of social isolation. Additionally, entering long-term care can be especially stressful, as folks are at a higher risk of discrimination and often don’t have the retirement income due to long-term employment discrimination. That’s why SAGE is grateful for the support of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation provides for our direct services and programs for LGBTQ+ elders, giving them the opportunity to age their way.
In addition to our five SAGE Centers and two LGBTQ+-friendly housing facilities in New York City, SAGE offers national programs that ensure LGBTQ+ elders receive companionship, financial assistance, competent care, and more. SAGE also participates in advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels, working with key officials and administrators to enact LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and protections for elders in the community. As we advocate for LGBTQ+ older people to be able to age their way, it is crucial that folks can access the same services as their straight and cisgender counterparts. Thankfully, in 2020, SAGE successfully advocated for updates to the Older Americans Act (OAA), a piece of legislation that funding state and local departments of aging around the country. Upon reauthorization, the OAA now requires aging services providers to conduct outreach to and engage with the LGBTQ+ community, determine what services are needed, and if those needs are being met. Now, SAGE is hard at work to ensure these changes get implemented and community members can access programs like Meals on Wheels, senior centers, transportation assistance, and more.
As SAGE works to provide support and advocate for LGBTQ+ older people to age with dignity and respect, we must remember that we are standing on the shoulders of leaders who have paved the way for decades. National Honor Our LGBTQ+ Elders Day is a time to come together as a community and highlight and appreciate the individuals who have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to the LGBTQ+ movement. They deserve the spotlight, as their resilience remains stronger than ever. And with Pride Month right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to remind everyone that LGBTQ+ elders refuse to be invisible.