LGBT ELDERS MARCH ON WASHINGTON

March 13, 2019 at 4:45 am

Concerned about their future, elder LGBT Americans are getting ready to march on Washington on Wednesday.

Aired on March 12, 2019. 

Transcript Print

>>> IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO AFTER A
RAID ON A GAY BAR THAT THE
STONEWALL RIOTS ERUPTED IN 1969.
THAT NIGHT AND IN THE DAYS THAT
FOLLOWED, MEN AND WOMEN STOOD
THEIR GROUND.
THEY HAD HAD ENOUGH OF BEING
DENIED EQUALITY AND, IN TURN,
HERALDED A NEW ERA.
WHAT FOLLOWED SHOOK THE NATION,
AND THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT WAS
BORN.
THE LEADERS OF THE REVELATION
ARE AGING AS IS THE GAY
POPULATION HERE IN AMERICA.
AND AS A COMMUNITY, THEY'RE
CONCERNED THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP'S
TAX CUTS WILL HURT FUNDING FOR
FEDERAL PROGRAMS AIMED AT LGBT
SENIORS AND THOSE LIVING WITH
HIV.
ORGANIZERS OF S.A.G.E., AN
ORGANIZATION THAT STANDS FOR
SERVICES AND ADVOCACY FOR GLBT
ELDERS, ARE HEADED TO CONGRESS
TO DEMAND CHANGE.
IT'S THAT ORGANIZATION'S
FIRST-EVER NATIONAL DAY OF
ADVOCACY.
I RECENTLY TALKED WITH MICHAEL
ADAMS, THE CEO OF S.A.G.E.
SO MICHAEL, WELCOME TO YOU.
>> THANK YOU.
GOOD TO BE HERE.
>> LET'S START WITH YOUR
ORGANIZATION, S.A.G.E.
HOW DID IT GET STARTED?
>> SO S.A.G.E. WAS STARTED NOW
41 YEARS AGO BY A BAND OF
ACTIVISTS WHO RECOGNIZED THAT IT
WAS A DECADE AFTER THE STONEWALL
UPRISING, AND THE FOLKS WHO WERE
BUILDING OUR COMMUNITY AND
LEADING OUR STRUGGLE FOR
EQUALITY AND RIGHTS WERE GETTING
OLDER.
AND REALLY, THERE WAS NO SPACE
AND NO SUPPORT FOR LGBT ELDERS
IN OUR COMMUNITY.
SO WE NEEDED TO GET STARTED TO
CREATE THAT SPACE.
>> WHEN IT GOT STARTED
INITIALLY, WHAT WAS ITS PURPOSE?
>> WELL, ITS PURPOSE INITIALLY
WAS RECOGNIZING THAT SOME OF THE
OLDEST FOLKS IN OUR COMMUNITY
WERE INVISIBLE.
THEY WERE BEING FORGOTTEN BY
YOUNGER PEOPLE, EVEN THOUGH THEY
WERE PIONEERS.
THEY WERE THE PEOPLE WHO PAVED
THE WAY FOR THE FOLKS WHO CAME
AFTER.
SO WE WANTED TO CREATE THAT
INVISIBILITY, AND THAT SOME OF
THEM WERE GROWING OLD ALONE.
THEY NEEDED SUPPORT.
THEY NEEDED CARE.
AND IF SOCIETY AT LARGE WASN'T
GOING TO DO THAT FOR OUR LGBT
ELTDERS, THAT WE, THE LGBT
COMMUNITY HAD TO DO IT.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR
CONCERNS AND THE FEARS.
UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF WHAT YOU
SAID -- GROWING OLDER, AND THERE
ARE PROBLEMS THAT COME FOR
ANYBODY GROWING OLDER.
ESPECIALLY LOOKING AT THIS
COMMUNITY.
>> YES.
>> THE TAX CUTS THAT WERE PUT
THROUGH RECENTLY.
WHAT SORT OF FEARS HAVE THOSE
CUTS GENERATED IN TERMS OF
S.A.G.E. AND YOUR WORK?
>> WELL, THINGS LIKE THE TAX
CUTS ARE THREATS TO ALL ELDERS.
BUT I WOULD SAY ESPECIALLY TO
MORE MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES
LIKE LGBT ELDERS BECAUSE WHAT
THEY REPRESENT IS THE POTENTIAL,
THE THREAT THAT THERE'S NOT
GOING TO BE THE GOVERNMENT
FUNDING WHAT'S NECESSARY TO
SUPPORT SENIOR SERVICES IN THIS
COUNTRY.
IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE ELDERS
THAT S.A.G.E. WORKS WITH, WE'RE
WORKING WITH A POPULATION OF
ELDERS, LGBT ELDERS, WHO ARE
VERY ISOLATED IN MANY CASES.
THE VAST MAJORITY --
>> WHY?
>> THE VAST MAJORITY DON'T HAVE
KIDS.
IN FACT, FOUR TIMES LESS LIKELY
TO BE PARENTS THAN OLDER
AMERICANS IN GENERAL.
TWICE AS LIKELY --
>> THEY DON'T HAVE THE FAMILY
SAFETY NET --
>> THEY DON'T HAVE THE FAMILY
SUPPORT.
TWICE AS LIKELY TO GROW OLD
SINGLE AND LIVING ALONE.
WE LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE ADULT
CHILDREN AND PARTNERS AND
SPOUSES ARE THE PRIMARY SOURCES
OF SUPPORT FOR ERLSD, FOR LGBT
-- ELDERS, FOR LGBT ELDERS FOR
THE MOST PART, THEY'RE NOT
THERE.
THAT MEANS THERE'S A GREATER
NEED FOR SENIOR SERVICES,
THERE'S A GREATER NEED FOR
PROFESSIONAL ELDER CARE.
THERE'S A GREATER NEED FOR
SENIOR HOUSING FOR THIS
POPULATION.
BUT THAT'S VERY HARD TO COME BY,
PARTLY BECAUSE OF
DISCRIMINATION.
WE STILL LIVE IN A DAY AND AGE
WHERE THERE IS DISCRIMINATION
AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE INCLUDING
OUR ELDERS.
AND PARTLY BECAUSE THERE'S A
SHORTAGE OF THESE SERVICES FOR
EVERYBODY.
>> FOR EVERYBODY.
>> EXACTLY.
>> WHAT SORT OF PUSHBACK ARE YOU
FINDING?
>> SOME OF THE OPPOSITION AND
SOME OF THE PUSHBACK WE
EXPERIENCE ARE THERE ISN'T ANY
MONEY, WHICH GOES RIGHT TO THE
POINT OF WHY ARE WE GIVING TAX
CUTS TO THE WEALTHY AND
CONTINUALLY CUTTING BACK TAXES
INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING OUR MOST
VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND OUR
ELDERS.
SO THAT'S PART OF IT.
YOU KNOW, SOME OF IT IS THAT,
YOU KNOW, EVERYBODY HAS
PROBLEMS, EVERYBODY HAS
CHALLENGES, WHICH IS TRUE.
BUT THEY'RE PARTICULARLY ACUTE
FOR THIS ELDER POPULATION.
AND SOME OF IT FRANKLY TO THIS
DAY AND AGE IS RANK
DISCRIMINATION.
SOME OF THAT IS RELIGIOUS SPACE.
WE'RE DEALING NOW, FOR EXAMPLE,
IN ST. LOUIS WITH A -- A
SITUATION WHERE AN ELDERLY
LESBIAN COUPLE WAS DENIED
ADMISSION TO AN ELDER CARE
COMMUNITY ON THE GROUNDS THAT
THEIR RELATIONSHIP -- THEIR
40-SOMETHING--YEAR RELATIONSHIP
IS NOT A BIBLICAL MARRIAGE.
DISCRIMINATION IS STILL A
PROBLEM.
>> IN PREPARING, I WAS SORT OF
SURPRISED THAT THE PERCENTAGE OF
THESE ELDER CARE FACILITIES THAT
ARE INVOLVED IN -- IN SOME SORT
OF RELIGIOUS BASE.
>> YES.
YES.
>> AND I IMAGINE THAT'S
CREATING, AS YOU MENTIONED,
THAT'S CREATING ADDITIONAL
PROBLEMS?
>> YES.
THE CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT
COMMUNITIES ARE THE OPTIMAL
RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES BECAUSE
THEY START AS INDEPENDENT
LIVING.
THEN THEY HAVE MEMORY CARE AND
NURSING CARE AS FOLKS ADVANCE --
>> TRANSITION INTO THAT --
>> EXACTLY.
SO YOU CAN MAKE THAT TRANSITION.
85% OF THESE KINDS OF ELDER CARE
COMMUNITIES ARE RUN BY RELIGIOUS
ORGANIZATIONS.
NOW SOME ORGANIZATIONS ARE
ORGANIZATIONS OF GOODWILL TOWARD
LGBT PEOPLE AND TREAT THEM WELL.
UNFORTUNATELY, SOME DON'T.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN ST.
LOUIS.
ONE OF OUR CHALLENGES AT THE
FEDERAL LEVEL IS THAT THE TRUMP
ADMINISTRATION IS SEEKING TO
AUTHORIZE RELIGIOUS
ORGANIZATIONS TO DISCRIMINATE
AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE AND OTHERS
IF THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS CALL
FOR THAT.
ON A SITUATION WHERE YOU'VE GOT
85% OF THESE ELDER CARE
PROVIDERS BEING RELIGIOUSLY
BASED AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
THAT'S ESSENTIALLY SAYING, HEY,
GO AHEAD AND DISCRIMINATE,
THAT'S A VERY THREATENING
SITUATION FOR LGBT ELDERS.
>> WHAT ARE THE COST ARGUMENTS
THAT YOU'RE OFFERING UP THERE --
OUT THERE AS PART OF YOUR
LOBBYING?
>> WELL, FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE,
AND I THINK WE CAN DEMONSTRATE
THIS WITH DATA, THE FACT IS THAT
IT COSTS LESS FOR US TO TAKE
CARE OF OUR LGBT ELDERS THAN IT
COSTS FOR US TO IGNORE THEM.
SO JUST TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE,
LONG-TERM CARE IN THIS COUNTRY,
NURSING CARE, COSTS ON AVERAGE
ALMOST $100,000 A YEAR PER
INDIVIDUAL.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON'T PROVIDE
THE SUPPORTS THAT LGBT ELDERS
NEED IN THE COMMUNITIES, SENIOR
CENTERS, OTHER KINDS OF
SERVICES, INDEPENDENT HOUSING,
OUR FOLKS END UP GOING INTO
NURSING HOMES MUCH SOONER THAN
THEY OTHERWISE WOULD.
THAT COSTS A LOT MORE THAN IF WE
INVESTED A MUCH SMALLER AMOUNT
OF MONEY IN THE SUPPORT THAT
PEOPLE NEED TO STAY IN THE
COMMUNITY.
SO THE REALITY IS WHEN WE TAKE
CARE OF OUR ELDERS, IT ENDS UP
BEING COST EFFICIENT, AS WELL AS
THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
>> BEYOND THE ARGUMENTS OF -- OF
NORMAL DECENCY AND RESPECT, YOU
CAN POINT TO DOLLAR FIGURES.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
ABSOLUTELY.
IT MAKES NO SENSE TO IGNORE AND
NEGLECT OUR LGBT WOULDERS FROM A
DOLLARS AND CENTS -- LGBT ELDERS
FROM A DOLLARS AND CENTS
PERSPECTIVE.
>> THE DAY OF ADVOCACY COMING
UP, MARCH 13th, IN WASHINGTON,
D.C.
WHAT IS IT GOING TO ENTAIL?
>> S.A.G.E.'S NATIONAL DAY OF
ADVOCACY, IT'S OUR FIRST, IS
IMPORTANT AND TIMELY.
THIS IS THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF
THE STONEWALL UPRISING.
THOSE YOUNG FOLKS ARE NOW OUR
ELDERS.
THE POINT OF THAT DAY IS THAT
LGBT ELDERS FROM NEW YORK CITY
AND FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE
COUNTRY WILL BE COMING TOGETHER,
AND BASICALLY HEADING ON TO
CAPITOL HILL TALKING WITH
SENATOR, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO
EXPLAIN THE CHALLENGES THEY
FACE, WHY IT'S IMPORTANT THAT
CONGRESS STEP UP TO THE PLATE.
THERE ARE PIECES OF LEGISLATION
THAT WE'RE ADVOCATING IN FAVOR
OF.
BOTH LEGISLATION THAT WOULD
ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF ELDERS IN
GENERAL AND MORE SPECIFIC
LEGISLATION THAT FOCUSES ON LGBT
ELDERS.
FUNDAMENTALLY TO SAY WE ARE --
WE REFUSE TO BE INVISIIBLE.
WE REFUSE TO BE IGNORED.
WE'RE GOING TO ENSURE OUR
ELDERS' VOICES ARE HEARD ON
NATIONAL ADVOCACY DAY AND EVERY
OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR.
>> IMPORTANT THINGS THAT NEED TO
BE ADDRESSED.
WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SPENDING
TIME, IT HELPING US TO UNDERSTA.
YOU TAKE CARE NOW.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© 2019 WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019