Posted on January 3, 2023
How SAGE is improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders
Note from the CREDO team: This January, SAGE is among three amazing groups that will receive a share of our monthly grant. Funding from the CREDO community will help SAGE to continue to innovate as it fights for LGBTQ+ and age-friendly policies and communities and create ties across generations.
Read this important blog post about the organization’s critical work, then click here to visit CREDODonations.com to cast your vote to help determine how we distribute our monthly grant to this organization and our other amazing grantees this January.
The start of a new year often offers the opportunity for a clean slate. However, as we look at our community, we must remember that some of us don’t have that opportunity. LGBTQ+ elders – the people who have paved the way for the rights and opportunities we have as LGBTQ+ people – are facing an unprecedented moment of crisis.
It’s a crisis caused by the exploding number of older people in our country who are liberated enough to come out and live their lives proudly as LGBTQ+ people. A crisis caused by severe isolation and loneliness made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. By much higher poverty levels and health problems than older Americans in general. And a crisis made much worse because our elders face widespread and rising discrimination and racism and anti-Semitism, and often don’t get the support they need.
I’m talking about the older lesbian who called my office during the worst days of COVID to say that the only live human voice she hears each week is when her SAGE volunteer calls to check in on her. I’m talking about the transgender woman of color who is an elder icon to her community but must line up every week at SAGE’s pantry program because without the groceries we offer, she wouldn’t have enough to eat. I’m talking about the elderly gay man who watched all of his friends die during the AIDS epidemic and is growing old alone. And I’m talking about the transgender man in a nursing home in Iowa who repeatedly was disrespected and felt discriminated against until SAGE came in to train the facility’s staff.
Working with our elders to address this crisis is why SAGE exists. And to meet this moment of crisis, SAGE has spent the past year doing everything possible to make a daily difference for our community’s elders.
But we’ve also been doing more. We’ve been forging a bold new direction for our organization’s work that truly meets the moment – big enough and transformative enough to rise to the occasion and overcome this crisis so our elders can live the lives they deserve. No matter who they are, where they live, or what they need.
Under this bold new plan, SAGE will be:
- Evolving to build momentum and scale our impact. That means more programs, more services. More reach.
- Reimagining how SAGE operates and moves through the world to get even more done for our elders.
- Expanding with two new special divisions – one for our NYC programs and another for our cutting-edge social enterprises – with a new model for partnerships, and with a path-breaking new SAGE Center of Excellence.
- Including more LGBTQ+ elders from all communities – more trans elders; more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color elders; and more elders from rural areas – to expand equity and representation.
- Innovating by building sustainable financing for essential SAGE programs to control our destinies and take care of our own.
While these are exciting new strategic directions for our work, our mission remains proudly the same. At the end of the day, SAGE is about making sure that every older member of our community doesn’t just survive but thrives as they age.
I hope SAGE’s bold new direction is as exciting for you as it is for me and the SAGE team. I hope you can see and feel how this will meet the moment for our community’s elders. Because at the end of the day, we must take care of our own so they can age like the heroes they are. They paved the way for the rest of us because of their resilience and determination to live as their authentic selves.
And a community that takes care of its own is who we are and what we do. You can learn more about SAGE’s work at sageusa.org.