At 81, George Stewart has been a longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people in New York City. He’s a former Army clerk and U.S. Air Force court reporter, and last summer he was selected by the White House as one of six Champions of Change nationwide for LGBT Pride Month. Yet behind his active civic life and national profile lies another reality: George Stewart is low income, and as with millions of older people, he relies on federal assistance to supplement his income and on local services for community support. For many low-income LGBT older people, public assistance and support networks interlock as lifelines — ameliorating poverty, reducing isolation and helping to manage the slew of challenges that come with getting older. Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of poverty among elders in this country, including LGBT elders, these realities are rarely brought to light. Read More
Three things to know as May ends and we look towards June:
- May is Older Americans Month.
- It’s also Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
- And I work for the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
So, what does this mean?
Well, for me, it made me really think: What are the stories being told about older LGBT AAPI people? Are they even being told? Outside of the amazing George Takei, I can’t think of another prominent openly gay Asian American older person. Can you?
I am Puerto Rican, gay and not yet 30 years old, so the stories of older LGBT AAPI people are not my personal story. Therefore, it was important that I find individuals who could tell and share these stories… And that was difficult. Read More
Thank you to everyone who called your Senators to tell them to vote NO to deportation based only on suspected gang membership and NO on detaining immigrants in deportation proceedings indefinitely. Your voice made a difference! The Grassley amendment on gangs FAILED thanks in part to your advocacy, and Senator Grassley chose NOT to put forward his amendment on indefinite detention. Thank you for helping to protect basic human rights and due process in our immigration system! Read More
Americans who are people of color, older adults and LGBT identified (referred to in this blog post as LGBT elders of color) often have unique needs because of the intersections of identities. LGBT elders of color are historically marginalized on multiple fronts and their needs are often under addressed in the mainstream aging field and in the popular LGBT rights movement. Read More
The following is a guest post from SEARAC’s Bao Lor.
“Wake up, kids! It’s 6:30!” my grandpa said as he pulled off the blanket that covered my head. I moved around, pretending to stretch and then curling back into a ball. Through my squinted eyes, I could see that my siblings were still lying next to me. I popped my head up and looked at the alarm clock across the room. It read: 6:10. This was my daily routine growing up. I grew up with my grandparents taking care of me and my siblings since my parents were always so busy working. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa was always the one taking me and my siblings to school every morning, and picking us up every afternoon once school got out. We numbered a total of eight kids at the time who were all attending elementary, middle, and high school. My grandpa always said that once he dropped us all off at school, within an hour or so, he would have to start picking us up again. This was true given the fact that we were in almost every grade level.
Alexis Martinez grew up in a rough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1960s. She knew she was transgender from an early age.Alexis (whose birth name is Arthur) struggled with her identity, as did her family. At 13, she came out as transgender to her mother. Alexis’ mother called the police, who laughed and told her, “You’ve got a fag for a son, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
As a result, Alexis joined a gang and “went as macho as [she] could be, to mask what [she] really was underneath.”
Alexis has a daughter, who accepts her for who she is. Says her daughter Lesley: “You don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to tiptoe. We’re not going to cut you off. And that is something that I’ve always wanted you to, you know, just know—that you’re loved.” Read More
Over the past several months, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) has conducted focus groups to learn about what Hispanic older adults and caregivers know about Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We found that people have a wide variety of beliefs about what causes the condition and how to prevent it. We also heard the insights of caregivers for people with AD. While there is no known cure or prevention measure for AD, caregivers can pass on advice and teach other caregivers how to cope with the stress of providing care.
”I would have her tested to be able to help her better, and have a better life for me and all of those who live at home.”
“The doctor told me that she didn’t have Alzheimer’s-she said, who was I to tell her that? After examining her, the doctor admitted that she had early signs of Alzheimer’s.”
“For those of us who love our family members, I believe we have to give them a hand, take them to a doctor, have tests done-because in its early stages, maybe life is better for those who take care of them.” Read More
The Senate recently introduced a bill on immigration reform. The bill is extensive, and covers many issues. Here, we wanted to highlight a few provisions on naturalization for older immigrants.
The bill includes promising pieces on reducing barriers to naturalization for older immigrants. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 5 million immigrants over the age of 65 in the United States. Immigration reform presents a new opportunity—the best in years—to allow older new Americans to fully participate in American society and life, legally as well as civically.
The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) works with many organizations advocating for immigration reform. However, not many advocates are considering the effect reform could have on older adults. I am happy that NHCOA was able to partner with the National Council on Aging and Caring Across Generations to develop the issue brief Immigration Reform: Key Issues for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. Aging advocates have a large role to play in immigration reform and this resource will help inform them on the varying issues faced by older people and people with disabilities.
And don’t forget to come back on Wednesday April 10, right here on diverseelders.org as NHCOA’s president Dr. Yanira Cruz will blog about Immigration Reform and Politics in an Aging America.
How my dad supported his gay son
There was a time in my life, around 11 years old, when I often skipped school because I was being bullied and harassed. It was obvious to my classmates that I was “different” and they targeted me because of it. At lunch, there was a boys table and a girls table, but I was relegated to the “other” table.
I hated waking up for school. Sometimes I would put my head over the toaster to create a “fever” and ask my mother if I could stay home. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Those days that it didn’t, I would put on my uniform, grab my lunch and deliberately slam the front door to our apartment. The loud noise signified to my parents that I was on my way to school.
What I really did was tip toe back to my bedroom and hide in the closet. Inside, I would carefully listen for my family to leave for the day. Once they were gone, I would breathe a huge sigh of relief as it meant I could turn on the TV and relax—I was free from my bullies!
One Monday, the school administration called my mother to inquire why I hadn’t been attending. It just so happened my father was home that day and my mother demanded that he check to see if I was there. As he called my name, my heart was pounding and I put my hand over my mouth to hide my breath as I hid in the closet. Read More
“Will immigration reform help me reunite with my grandchildren?”
“My husband passed from cancer I wish there were more support services.”
“We want to take care of our family in harmony.”
On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 60 youth and elders spoke up with these comments and questions. SEARAC, alongside the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, held an advocacy day where the group met with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the federal agencies, and Congressional offices in Washington, DC.
It was incredibly inspiring this week to see elders speaking up, with local impact through the group of Cambodian-American elders we hosted, as well national as I followed coverage of the Supreme Court arguments on United States v. Windsor. Check out our fellow DEC partner SAGE’s blog for more great insights on the issue and more about Edie’s own amazing story.
The week isn’t even over yet, but I wanted to contribute five reflections on advocacy with Southeast Asian American elders: Read More
March is National Women’s History Month. Recognizing the contributions older Latinas make is important, but it does not happen often enough in our society. The Hispanic older women that the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) works with encourage others to contribute to their communities and provide inspiration for those looking for the right way to give. The theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is “Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination,” and the community leaders that NHCOA has trained live this theme on a daily basis.
Over the last several years, NHCOA has conducted Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training (ECET) and developed over 800 community leaders, the vast majority of them older adult women. Read More
Two weeks ago, we announced that we would be re-launching the Diverse Elders Coalition Blog. Read here to find out more.
We are thrilled that this day has finally come. As we previously promised, in addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we will have exciting guest bloggers. We will also display our content in a variety of different ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.) And much more! Have a suggestion? Contact us.
You can bookmark this page or subscribe to our RSS feed to stay updated. Check back on Wednesday to read our latest post, courtesy of National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). Until then, enjoy some highlights from the blog’s history:
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) was founded in 2010, and in July 2012 we launched our official website, which also serves as a news and commentary blog on the social, political and economic issues affecting the growing yet vulnerable demographic of elders who are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT).In the last eight months, we have put out numerous posts on the issues that affect our communities and the creative ideas and best practices to address them. In the summer of 2012, we also released Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, a resource that describes the issues facing elders of color and LGBT elders, who together will represent a majority of older adults in the United States by 2050.
In this time, we have received some wonderful comments on our work, as well as helpful feedback from our readers (all of you) on how to improve the site to better meet your needs—and we listened to you. Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition came together and crafted an exciting plan for moving forward by implementing many of your ideas, which you’ll see starting with our blog re-launch on March 18. Here are some of the improvements to look forward to:
In addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we have some exciting guest bloggers scheduled!
Content displayed in a variety of ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.)
More news and original content from coalition members
As we look forward to March 18, please like us (and tell a friend!) on Facebook to stay updated on the events surrounding the launch and the latest news affecting diverse elders. If you have any questions about DEC or would like to submit an idea for a blog post, please contact us.
See you on the 18th!
To learn more about DEC members, click here.
In honor of Black History Month, the SAGE Blog will feature a post on LGBT aging in the black community every Thursday during the month of February. February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, so our first post in the series is on HIV/AIDS in the black community by Ty Martin, Community Liaison at SAGE Harlem.
I am black. I am gay. I am an older adult.
I am resilient. And so is my community.
I grew up during the civil rights movement, seeing powerful black activists around me fight for our civil rights as a people. I also grew up during the Stonewall Riots, feeling the hostility society harbored toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. And I grew up during a time when I lost many loved ones due to HIV/AIDS, a disease that was viewed by the world as a critical epidemic.
Now it’s 2013. Today as a black gay man, I enjoy more freedoms and rights (as a New Yorker, I have the right to marry my long-term partner Stanton). Yet, for older black gay men who are living with HIV/AIDs, it’s still a difficult journey.