COMMUNITY

SAGE EVERYDAY HEROES

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e following images represent culturally diverse members of SAGE’s New York City community. ey have braved hatred and homophobia in all its ugly forms – stormed the streets and fought for equality in the workplace, challenged church and state for their right to marry and raise chıldren. Out ere and SAGE celebrate LGBT senior citizens – our most valuable natural resource.

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Words MATTHEW WEXLER | Portraits SAM GANADO

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with ten leading organizations) has been awarded a three-year grant to establish the first-ever National Resource Center on LGBT Ageing. This knowledge will evolve and spread and be accessible to regions far and wide. sageusa.org

AGE is the world’s largest and oldest organisation dedicated to improving the lives of older LGBT adults. SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Tra n s gend er E ld er s) i s

transforming the world view on ageing through advocacy and leadership, new services focused on caregiving and financial security and personal empowerment. Breaking ground with landmark funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAGE (in collaboration

GREGORY TERRY

“I am a diva, proud of who I am and happy to be me. I get some flack from people who don’t like my ‘flaunting about’, but I just say, ‘if you don’t like it, don’t look!’ I’ve lived all over NYC in some tough hoods and have learned how to take care of myself. I’m comfortable in my very thick skin! I am an activist – always have been. I was at some of the first Pride parades and was involved in Men of All Colors (MACT), combating racism in the LGBT community when it first started over 30 years ago. We’d protest at bars that didn’t allow black or gay people in and definitely had a lot of face-offs with the police and the general public. I still can party though and plan on being Lady Gaga for an upcoming MACT fundraiser! I was out in junior high, when I was 13 or 14. This was in Harlem. I toughed up real fast. What I want to say to anyone who sees this is, don’t be afraid to be who you are – just live your life the way you see fit. You’ll be happier if you do.”

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COMMUNITY
SAGE EVERYDAY HEROES

BARBARA POLICE “I was born and raised in Greenwich Village. I grew up knowing I was gay and have been out all my life. I fought mightily for women’s rights - we did an awful lot of advocating in the early days of the movement. Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug – you name em, I’ve worked with them. I want people to know that if we didn’t do what we did in the past, we wouldn’t have the rights we have today, but there is still much more to be done.”

PAT SLOANE “I feel like I’m in my 30’s.

I love life and my partner and being able to do all of the things I want to do, but that’s because being gay now is completely different. I used to live in the Bronx and wherever I went, police would hassle me because I wasn’t wearing at least “three feminine articles” of clothing. I knew I was gay when I was four! I think people should know that the older generation fought extremely hard for the gains we have now.”

GEONALDO GENAO “Being gay, at first, was a lot of trouble. I grew up in the Dominican Republic in a Catholic family. Needless to
say, neither were welcoming. I le for the USA in 1978 and lived in NYC for two years before moving to Denver, CO. I was accepted into a seminary and had the opportunity to graduate with a BA in religious studies and philosophy. I know, I know… I wanted to help people and change the perception of being a gay Catholic priest. That didn’t really work out. I thought that there were so many closeted people within the Catholic community, me included, and that if we could just get together, some change could be made, but I was naive. The prejudices I faced were too difficult and I was only officially “out” in 1994. I’m proud to be gay! Right now I’m looking a er my health and I need a lot of medical treatments. SAGE helps me by having a community and a place to go when I need help. I also volunteer and give help when I can.”

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SAGE EVERYDAY HEROES

SHEILA BLIGEN “My first kiss – I must have been 17 and I don’t remember the girl’s name or what she looked like, but it was
amazing. It was just such a fantastic experience and I thought to myself “I like this.” Within that same year, I became a lesbian. I fell back into the closet, though - because everyone, including my mother, and maybe a little part of myself, said it “was a phase.” I had children, and they are one of the best things I’ve done in my life, even though I didn’t really like being with a man. I now have grandchildren and a great-grandson. I wasn’t really part of the political side of the gay movement. Once I came “out” again, I was “out”, but at that point, I never really dealt with any discrimination. There is only one time in my memory that stands out, when a co-worker completely cut me out of her life when she found out I had a partner. I wish people could just live their lives and be happy with themselves.”

INTERVIEWS: CHRISTINE DA CASTA | HAIR AND MAKE-UP: DIANA CALLE | FLOWERS: HEATH ALAN RAY | WALLPAPERLAURAASHLEY.COM STILL LIFE SHOTS STYLED BY: POP KAMPOL SPECIAL THANKS TO JAKE WALTERS. CONTINUED PAGE 208

MICHAEL FEUER “I never think of myself as old. I really do feel 25 sometimes. I am very proud to be gay. My parents were extremely liberal and never had a problem with it. I think I first knew when I was about four and told my parents when I was nine. My parents were extremely supportive, but I only told my brother when I turned 30. Needless to say, he totally supports me. That’s not to say that I didn’t have my share of problems dealing with prejudice. Luckily, I’ve always gravitated to big cities. I would never move out of the Village now – never. I am a fighter for our community. Always have been. SAGE at the Center has become my home from home and it means so much to me to have a safe space with people who accept me. Before I die, I want there to be a better understanding between LGBTs and straights – we can help each other so much. I tend to be flamboyant, a performer! I love life and hope that everyone has the energy I have at my age.”
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