Daily Archives: October 13, 2011
On the final day of the First National Convening on POC/LGBT Aging, hosted by GRIOT Circle in collaboration with AARP at the Brickfield Conference Center, participants tackled the challenges of forming the first national professional network and shaping the mission and vision of the network; Laurens Van Sluytman, PhD facilitated this process.
The morning began with a facilitated discussion about Positive Aging, with a panel led by Bonnie Harrison, MSHC. Panelist Dr. Kyaien O. Conner, from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, delivered an excerpt of a highly impressive and comprehensive report that contained startling health disparity statistics on the POC/LGBT communities. Her research findings are a wake-up call to the national policy makers to address these critical and frightening statistics as the nation becomes more elderly.
The Honorable US Senator Benjamin Cruz of Guam, hit home the need for the federal government to recognize marriage and create equality for the LGBT community, specifically for seniors. None of the 1400 benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples are provided to LGBT couples, which in turn has dire implications on LGBT seniors who have lost their partners and are left with income losses, sometimes as much as 70%.
Trans-elder activist Helena Bushong contributed to the dialogue on health and economic disparities within the Transgender community, and the complications of living with comorbidities, as the lack of research in Transgender communities can prove to be fatal in some cases.
Nancy K. Bereano, retired publisher, gave the keynote address about the value of community and support as we age. She referenced a dear friend, who at 62, was diagnosed with cancer and built a network of friends to support her with the quality of her end of life process. GRIOT Circle has taken those recommendations to heart and will incorporate them into our Buddy-2-Buddy program going forward. This area was the missing link in the codification of this particular program.
This session sparked thought-provoking questions around organizational self-identity, as well as capacity levels available to support the future development of the network. Some of the questions participants presented and attempted to address include: Who will develop a mission and policy statement? Are we going to be volunteer-driven, how is that going to look and how exactly will the committees be formed?
How do we provide funding, technical and organizational support to each other on a national level (i.e. AARP/ ASA relationships)? What would those relationships look like? How do we handle the issue of members’ intellectual property sharing, as well as, broader issues of information sharing, including research findings, programs and services to promote the strength of organizations in the network?
Please revisit our blog for additional reports, outcomes, updates and first-person offerings from participants at the First National POC LGBT National Convening.
Just a few days ago I received an email that a 57-year-old black lesbian member who was living in the New York City shelter system had been gunned down outside of the shelter. Amber Hollibaugh, Executive Director, Queers for Economic Justice said, “Yvonne’s killing on Sunday underscores the reality that the police cannot be relied on to respond compassionately to low-income LGBTQ people when it concerns issues of safety in our communities. At QEJ, we are asking again, how many potentially dangerous situations every year have to end up in a police shooting? It cannot be accepted that calling the police can be deadly for low-income LGBTQ New Yorkers”.
Most of us have vibrant memories of the battles that have gone before: civil rights, marriage equality in California and New York, and the continuing immigrants rights struggle. We also do not forget the examples of fierce warriors like Audre Lorde, who said, “If I did not define myself for myself, I would be crushed into other people’s fantasies for me and be eaten alive.”
In addition to ongoing marginalization the current economic climate threatens housing, food security and health care among the aging. These forces are all the more challenging in light of continued marginalization and lack of integration of people of color and more so, LGBT elders of color into this dialogue.
As “baby boomers” age there is need to look at the rights and well-being of the aging.
There are those who stood up and fought on all these fronts that are continually being left out of the conversation.
People like Regina V. Shavers, Robert Spellman, Ira Jeffries, the founders of GRIOT, saw the need for us to have the space to speak for ourselves.
They would be pleased at the amassed potential of this community of organizational leaders and elders coming together to cooperatively continue the battle we have been waging individually and in small segmented groups, in Aging. It’s time for us to reassess how we can work differently to get our voices and our lives into this conversation. This convening offers us an opportunity to gather as a community of POC/ LGBT elders and organizational leaders who must frame the policy on Aging. Our work experience in addressing the disparities in health care, housing, immigration, social security are needed in a truly collective effort that enhances the quality of our elder’s lives. This network must build a united voice of POC organizational leaders and elders, and must reframe language so it inclusively meets the needs of the POC /LGBT communities. It would not be clichéd to say at this time, “Si, se puede!”
Article by Glen Francis, E.D., GRIOT Circle, also published in HUFFINGTON POST.
Successful aging requires access to approximate housing, quality health care, and supportive services – needs that will challenge and transform the system entrusted with providing these services for a rapidly expanding aging population. At the same time, the growing numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors and their increasing degree of openness and demands for fair and equal treatment are further challenging the elder care system to meet the needs of all seniors. This shift signals the urgent need to radically transform and redesign gerontological and geriatric health care paradigms.
Older Americans are also growing more radically and ethnically diverse. In 2000, an estimated 84 percent of persons aging 65 and older were non-Hispanic white, 8 percent were Hispanic, 2 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders, and less than 1 percent was Native American/Alaska Native.
By 2050, estimates indicate that approximately 64 percent of persons age 65 or older will be non-Hispanic white, 16 percent will be Hispanic, 12 percent will be non-Hispanic black, and 7 percent will be Asian/Pacific Islanders. Service providers must take this growing diversity into account as they strive to provide quality services that genuinely meet seniors needs.
All elders contend with many of the same aging-related issues, however, LGBT seniors and people of color (POC) LGBT in particular face many unique challenges. These seniors are “thrice-Hidden” due to social discrimination on levels: ageism, racism, homophobia and heteroism.
LGBT seniors often face anti-gay to gender discrimination by mainstream elders care providers that renders them “invisible” and impedes their access to vital services. At the same time, LGBT elders frequently confront ageism within the LGBT community and the organizations created to serve the community’s needs.
This First National Convening on POC LGBT Aging is a collective declaration of the urgent need to reframe and transform the conventional “aging” health care landscape as it directly impacts POC LGBT elders. We must move beyond problem solving in isolation to forging sustainable and innovative collaboration among aging, health and LGBT network.
It is essential to collectively advocate for the integration of both ethno-geriatrics and adult transformational learning into all aspects of health care delivery for POC LGBT elders. This is a crucial time for advocates to communicate, hold each other accountable and present a untied front, especially during this period of national debate over the future of federal programs critical to the well-being of seniors.
VP, Talent Management, Diversity & Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer, HR Group
Today was the first day of sessions for the National Convening of POC LGBT Aging Professionals, as someone said, “is a very historic day, an idea that was a dream, today was realized.” From around 8am guests and panelists began arriving at Brickfield Convention Center, AARP’s hi-tech conference facility in the heart of the nation’s capital. Carmelita Tursi, Senior Diversity Advisor HR Group at AARP, provided the opening greetings, while Clarence Fluker, Program Manager, Office of GLBT Affairs, District of Columbia Mayor’s Office, delivered a warm welcome to Washington, D.C. In the absence of Cathy Greenley, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services at AOA, Edwin L. Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Dept. of Health and Human Services, AOA delivered a message form the Assistant Secretary.
The opening panel, facilitated by Chezia Carraway, LCSW, PHE Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was comprised of Jay Blackwell, Director, Capacity Building Division OMH-RC, Sharon M. Day, E.D., Indigenous People Task Force, Mandy Carter, Co-Founder, NBJC and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Tony Sarmiento, E.D., Senior Services America, Inc., Jewelle Gomez, Grants and Community Initiatives, Horizons Foundation and Christopher Bates, CEO, PACHA.
This lively panel drew from the history of struggles to address core issues and philosophy including strategy for the creation of a network that truly defines and represents the POC LGBT aging community. While Bryan Epps, Senior Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor’s Office laid out the fundamentals of policy creation and the benefits in support of issue advocacy. Chair Elect, ASA, Louis Colbert was the Keynote Speaker who spoke on the importance of this convening on the national landscape of aging.
The workshop component was structured into six discussion groups that allowed for an intimate and comprehensive discourse. Each group tackled a subject area: Elder abuse, Mental Health, Immigration, Housing, Health Care and Spirituality. Facilitator Victor Pond, Director of Policy, Research and Community Health, GRIOT Circle, coordinated the questions and group feedback. The first day of the Convening closed with a dialogue facilitated by Carmen Vazquez, coordinator NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Unit of the AIDS Institute, on the challenges and opportunities for the creation of a professional network.
Over fifty aging professionals gathered in Washington, D.C. on October 12-13, 2011 for the First National Convening of POC LGBT Aging Professionals hosted at the AARP Brickfield Center.
The idea of organizing a National Convening targeted to POC leaders of organizations and POC elders in the community to create a cross-cultural aging Network to promote LGBT POC aging on a national platform came during the American Society on Aging (ASA) LAIN (LGBT Aging Issues Network) Retreat held 2010 in New Mexico and sponsored by the Arcus Foundation.
From the meeting emerged The POC “Hot Spot” committee of LAIN to help address the gaps and help inform an inclusive practice for future educational efforts of ASA.
This Convening is an occasion for discussion and an opportunity to develop the strategies for building a common vision among LGBT POC professionals, activists and allies committed to aging issues. The Convening has been realized and the work of building a formidable network for aging professionals who serve the POC LGBT community has begun. Here, we share some outtakes from the first day of facilitated discussions and group workshops. Subsequent posts on the GRIOT Blog will record and report on this historic event, and the outcomes.
Photography by SeanDrakes.com