by Jesse Monteagudo -
SGN Contributing Writer
SAGE - Senior Action in a Gay Environment - was founded in New York City in 1978 to improve the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender older adults. According to its national mission statement (posted at www.sageusa.org), 'SAGE has pioneered programs and services for the aging LGBT community, provided technical assistance and training to expand opportunities for LGBT older people across the country, and provided a national voice on LGBT aging issues.' SAGE focuses on advocacy at both local and national levels, as well as activities, groups, and programs that encourage LGBT older adults to stay connected with each other and with the community. Led by Executive Director Michael Adams, SAGE - now officially Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Elders - works with LGBT elder adults and aging service providers to address and overcome the challenges of discrimination in elder adult service settings.
In my neck of the woods, SAGE of South Florida was founded in 1994 by seniors who had been active in SAGE chapters in New York City and elsewhere. Unlike the national organization, SAGE of South Florida kept its original name and its focus is social rather than political. According to its mission statement, 'SAGE of South Florida is a nonprofit organization for Senior Action in a Gay Environment to enrich the lives of the [LGBT] senior community through membership inclusive of age, gender, race, nationality, and religion. We believe this can be accomplished by sponsoring social alternatives. To provide personal interaction, offering educational opportunities to deal with the special needs of aging, and promoting contact with the isolated and homebound persons of our community.' Though SAGE's demographics range far and wide, most of its members are of retirement age. (Still in my fifties, I am one of the South Florida chapter's youngest members.)
A BUSY CALENDAR
SAGE of South Florida's social events and programs provide its members with a wide range of activities. They include monthly dinners, a monthly 'Lunch & Learn,' a monthly SAGE Women's Lunch at the Golden Corral in Tamarac, a weekly Men's Drop-In at the Pride Center at Equality Park, a single men's group, a SAGE Book Club at Stonewall National Museum and Archives, a SAGE Computer Club, a SAGE on the Border/Alternatives in Boca Raton, an annual sea cruise, and a series of quickly sold-out theater parties. Many of the SAGE events are held on weekdays, which is convenient for retirees but not for those of us who still have day jobs. Even so, SAGE has something for everyone.
I recently attended SAGE's Milestone Luncheon, held at the Pride Center at Equality Park. More than 100 SAGE members and guests joined to honor the birthdays of SAGE's most senior members - those who have reached the age of 90, 85, 80, or 75. The Milestone Luncheon was a festive affair, with an invocation by Rabbi Noah Kitty of Congregation Etz Chaim and a special performance by the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus under the direction of Dr. Gary Keating (now back at the helm of the chorus he founded over 26 years ago). The Luncheon was catered by Chef Giacomo Dresseno of Primavera Restaurant, a SAGE favorite. And, of course, there was birthday cake. Most importantly, SAGE's Milestone Luncheon gave us the opportunity to connect with friends we had not seen since the last SAGE event.
The LGBT community, like society as a whole, is youth-oriented. Groups like SAGE, Prime Timers, and A Celebration of Friends (among others) provide needed services and opportunities to a growing segment of our population. I joined SAGE over a year ago, after accepting the fact that I was not getting any younger and that I needed a social group that reflected this. Though SAGE is not the sum total of my social life, I enjoy many of its activities as well as the women and men who make them possible.
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