It has been a rough week - the economy, on-going political nail biting over the election etc - but it was a great week for LGBT senior visibility.
Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) launched an ad campaign with the tag line "BECAUSE THERE IS NO EXPIRATION DATE ON A FULL, ACTIVE LIFE." Here, here. Fantastic visuals can be seen at www.sageusa.org. When these hit the NYC transit system in October, you can be sure it will grab the attention of millions.
The day after the first ads ran, it only got better. Newsweek.com, after months of work, posted an extraordinary multimedia package that included a number of articles and videos about LGBT seniors, the issues they face and the work that SAGE and groups like it do to support our growing senior population. Take a look at http://www.newsweek.com/id/159509. This will take a while, enjoy.
In all my years of doing media advocacy, even I was amazed at the depth, detail and a amazing work done on this piece (brava to writer Jessica Bennett and the Newsweek team!). It included so much information and, more importantly, so many voices from our seniors and those who work tirelessly to provide services for them. The videos will bring you to tears, make you laugh out loud and instill a real sense of urgency for this "invisible and overlooked" part of the senior community. That phrase, a quote from an AARP spokesperson, marks another historic facet of all of this visibility.
The AARP, long criticized for not doing enough work in the LGBT community, has arrived at a new place. Not only do they have a growing employee resource group, an inclusive and enthusiastic diversity department that embraces the LGBT community, they are putting their money and influence where their mouth is - as a presenting sponsor of the upcoming SAGE conference and sending their President to keynote.
This has been a huge year for LBT senior visibility, one we hope to build on even more in the coming months, in 2009 and beyond.
All us - no matter what our age - need to take in the images in this ads and the stories on Newsweek.com, and see that the one thing we all have in common is that we will, hopefully, one day be old enough to understand on a personal level.
Be a part of it - go to www.sageusa.org. This October, I hope to have three generations of Rennas at the SAGE conference: my Mom (81 and going strong), myself and my daughter (who turns 3 this week!). It will be a testament to how we need to come together across generations, sexual orientation and gender identity and every other "difference" around the one thing we all do....everybody ages.
Partnering with SAGE and its incredible staff and clients has been and continues to be a joy and an honor for RennaComm and we are thrilled at being part of the change that is happening. Having met everything from 90 year old lesbians who are still active in SAGE volunteer activities to gay men that remember what is was like in the 50's to be out to transgender volunteers in SAGE's new senior cybercenter that are transitioning late in life but in a completely affirming environment, I have seen firsthand how important it is for them to be part of SAGE. What I have also learned is how important it has been for me - to better appreciate the progress we have made, to be part of such important work that I hopefully benefit from myself and understand exactly whose shoulders I stand on.
No abstract concept here - from Stonewall veterans to Korean War veterans, they are here. Let's get their stories out before they are no longer around to tell us. That would truly be a loss for out entire community.