Around the first of April of this year, I began using a wheelchair when I leave the apartment. This was an inevitability that I resisted, fought off for as long as I could. Admitting that I need a wheelchair struck me as “the last straw,” akin to simply giving up, accepting the fact that the virus is winning. Worse, I have become more of a burden to my fiancé Rick than a companion. (When he read a draft of this column, Rick balked at my thinking I’m a burden on him and assured me that I’m not. He’s a good man that way.)
However, between the debilitating pain in.... Read More
Confronting AIDS and Coming Out Taught Us How to Age Well
A first-ever survey in 2013 of LGBT San Francisco residents aged 60 to 92 found something startling: 15 percent of the 612 respondents had “seriously considered” committing suicide within the last 12 months. Commissioned by the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, the study found high degrees of disability as well as poor physical and mental health—both of which are associated with depression. The researchers were understandably concerned by the high percentage of LGBT seniors who had considered suicide.
Every year, March 20th is designated as National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. As the US Department of Health and Human Services states, the day is “a time to recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.”
What are HIV and AIDS? HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. Opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that.... Read More
Honoring Our Experience, a social services program run by the Shanti Project, sponsors a series of REVIVAL dances to honor long-term HIV survivors in San Francisco. Hank wrote this piece for a talent show at the February 2018 REVIVAL dance and has graciously shared it with the Diverse Elders Coalition for publication on our website.
It’s 1959 and I’m six years old. My family has gathered at my grandparents’ house this Sunday to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. I’m sitting on the cold linoleum floor, watching, as this very tall, thin, very regal-looking woman walks onto.... Read More
As I write this article, slightly more than a month before my 65th birthday, I wish was eagerly anticipating a lovely fun-filled celebration. But I know better. I will most likely spend the day in bed with the covers pulled over my head, wondering, “What the hell happened?!”
Not that long ago—although it feels like a lifetime—I was a very active, respected wrestler and amateur MMA fighter—I have a championship belt hanging on my wall that I won in an eight-man MMA tournament in 2001 at age forty-eight. Today,.... Read More
Texans With HIV Cope With Homes And Medicines Ruined By Hurricane Harvey
This story by Kaiser Health News senior national correspondent Sarah Varney aired Nov. 24, 2017, on Here & Now.
Angelia Soloman watched out the window of her ranch house in northeastern Houston as the floodwaters rose up to the windowsills.
She huddled inside with her three adopted children (ages 12 to 15), a nephew and her 68-year-old mother. “They were looking and crying, like, ‘We’re gonna lose everything,’” said Soloman. “And I’m like, ‘No, it’ll be OK.’”
When the water began rushing under the front door, filling up the house like a bathtub, Soloman led her family outside, and plunged into a river of water up to her chest.
The hurricane couldn’t have come at a worse time.... Read More
Kintsugi: A Survivor’s Reflection on World AIDS Day 2017
When the Japanese mend broken objects, they emphasize the damage by filling in the cracks with gold.
They believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful than before.
This is kintsugi, the art of “fixing with gold.”
We were broken. Thirty-six years ago, a virus invaded our community, invaded our bodies. It destroyed hundreds of thousands of us. Those of us whom the virus couldn’t kill, it left broken—physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually broken.
We have suffered damage. Those of us who carry the virus inside.... Read More
Finding a Place to Call Home: Dr. Dio Gica Talks SAGE, Pride Month, and Housing for LGBT Older Adults
It’s LGBT Pride Month, and we’re celebrating all month long with a series of interviews with staff at SAGE || Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders. Today’s interview is with Dr. Diosdado Gica, Chief Program Officer. Dio presented with the Diverse Elders Coalition during the 2017 Aging in America conference in Chicago, IL. Here he talks about Pride Month, intersectionality, and what it means to have a safe place to call your home.
What is your role with SAGE? I am SAGE’s Chief Program Officer, and in addition to managing the direct services we provide here in.... Read More
Now Available: SAGE Health Storylines Self-Care App
The SAGE Health Storylines self-care app makes it easy for older adults and caregivers to track their health. When you open the app, you will see a variety of tools including medication tracker, daily moods and symptom tracker which allow you to build your health story. The My Storylines feature allows you to learn more about your health, and to share more – safely and securely – with your doctor about what happened between visits.
This app was designed in partnership with.... Read More
Recently, I marched with thousands of other people in a candlelit rally here in San Francisco. We marched in unity – LGBTQ folks, women, undocumented immigrants, elderly straight folks, young kids, African Americans, Latinos – all the marginalized people who face dire and immediate threats from the Trump administration. We marched and chanted. We held each other, we commiserated, we cried and laughed, we pledged to support each other and to work together against the forces of racism and bigotry that have won this temporary victory at the polls. We pledged solidarity.
Then, about half a block down Castro, I was stopped, frozen in my tracks by a hand on my chest.