Category Archives: Inspire Someone

CRITICAL ESSAYS ON AGING LGBT ELDERS OF COLOR

Good day all,

What a wonderful way for us to celebrate this day that is all too often overshadowed by consumer purchases of messages of love.

Here, we have added to the literature and resources concerning the lives of those who are often not considered within prevailing hegemonic notions of who we love.  (For all Morganites: Tiffany Rice, one of our doctoral candidates, contributed to this suite of articles I had the pleasure of curating.)

Our work has been posted to American Society on Agings website.

Yes we did.

I trust that this small contribution, viewable via the following links, will add dimension to the stories of People of Color Lesbian Gay Trangender and Bisexual elders in  communities.

We are part of the task of dismantling the master’s house (see Audre Lorde):

>>  Dying with Dignity: Considerations for Treating Elder Transgender People of Color

>>  Cervical Cancer in Elder Black Lesbian and Bisexual Women

>>  Reducing Isolation: A Community Engagement Service Model

>>  Reticence and Necessity: Power of Attorney and LGBT Aging Issues

>>  (Dis)parities and (In)visibilities: Shifting Perception of the Life Course of LGBT Elders of Color

Thanks All!!

Laurens

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New SAGE Center Honors Elders

 

Black Pride New York City honored its Elders on August 16th, 2012 at the new Sage Center on 305 7th Avenue.

The  assembly of speakers came for across the city to honor the LGBT POC Elder community.  Over 75 seniors came to­gether for an evening of community, live entertainment and lunch, all generously donated.

A special tribute was paid to GRIOT Circle and its executive director, Glen-Michael Francis, who was also the keynote speaker. Glen spoke about community and the work that went into creating the Sage Innovative Center, the first city-funded LGBT Center in New York City. 

Glen also spoke to why this community center belongs to all of us, and why we as people of color should come and enjoy the activities, make sug­gestions to create programs and services that are reflective of our values and traditions, bring friends and take computer classes

Alyce Emory, the evening’s MC and program coordina­tor, said, “I am humbled and grateful to all who participated and supported!”  Minister Renair Amin was the officiant and gave the opening remarks and blessings!

 

MOMENT OF SILENCE ON BAYARD RUSTIN’S 100TH BIRTHDAY

Saturday, March 17, 2012, marks the 100th birthday of the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.  Rustin was a proud Black gay man who was an indispensable architect of the Civil Rights Movement. His most noteworthy achievements include serving as chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, mentoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helping to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

at news briefing on the Civil Rights March on ...

at news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington in the Statler Hotel, half-length portrait, seated at table (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an effective bridge builder across a broad range of demographics, he spent more than 60 years involved in social, racial, economic, class, labor, anti-war and other justice movements, both domestically and internationally.

However, the story of this visionary strategist and activist, who dared to live as an openly gay man during the violently homophobic 1940s, 50s, and 60s, has rarely been told in mainstream or Black media.

Read more just click here —> NBJC Celebrates Bayard Rustin 100th Birthday 1912-2012

PROP 8 VICTORY!

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional! We knew all along that Prop 8 was wrong, and this ruling affirms what millions of people all across the country already know — loving, committed same-sex couples and their families should be able to share in the celebration and obligations of marriage.

This is a huge victory in the battle for marriage equality, but this fight is far from over.

The federal government still refuses to recognize our families. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act remains the law of the land, and thousands of loving families are denied the protections, rights, and responsibilities that other married couples take for granted.

The Obama Administration has refused to defend DOMA. It’s time for Congress to repeal it.

Take Action now: Tell your senators to pass the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal DOMA.

Let’s use this historic ruling as a catalyst in our fight for equality, and demand that the federal government recognize our relationships.

Repeal DOMA now!

BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT GRIOT CIRCLE

TO ENLARGE THE CALENDAR, JUST CLICK ON THE IMAGE.

TRUTH & CONSEQUENCE: Testimonials on Living with HIV

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, GRIOT Circle honors the lives of loving, inspirational and courageous souls who transitioned too soon, by passing forward the wisdom they imparted from their battle with HIV and AIDS.   Here, in their own words, we share an excerpt from the oral history project Without the Burden of this Secret The conversations on HIV/AIDS in the POC LGBT elder community today, bear many common threads to the sentiments and experiences in these interviews which occurred 20 years ago in New York City.

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LOUIS GRANT  ::  OPEN & OUT

I have lost a lot of friends to AIDS.  Too often I have thought that some unnecessarily allowed themselves to succumb to the disease.  They did not fight, they were not positive [minded] they accepted the diagnosis as a statement of impeding doom.  It seems to me that we black folk have moved slower in acknowledging the impact of this disease on our community.  Our people are suffering and dying because too often we are afraid to come out to our family…to our friends at a time when we need them most.  I think it’s very important to be out in terms of being a homosexual man and as a person with AIDS.  I’m out in every context: in my home, in my work situation.  I think carrying the burden of this secret, as so many of us do, when one has AIDS it just contributes to the illness.  It dos not make sense at this point in one’s life, when one needs to grasp all the life preserves one can, to not be open and out.  For me it’s another effective survival tool.”

Louis Grant

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JOE LONG  ::  SURVIVING DEMON DOCTORS

I was diagnosed with the HIV virus in 1989.  I was tested when I discovered a parotid cyst in my right cheek.  I was putting all kinds of solutions and compresses on it and it wouldn’t go down.  I finally decided to get to a doctor at New York Ear Nose and Throat.  The first thing he said to me was, “This is typical of gay fellas, why don’t you go take the test?”  Swollen glands and parotid cysts were nothing unusual, so I said I didn’t want to take the [AIDS] Test, I didn’t think that that was necessary, I wanted to see what we could do about the swelling, but he insisted.  So I did.  When I came back ten days later he told me my results were positive and to go get on AZT—as simple as that.  I asked if there was something he could do about the cyst.  He said that, I needed to find somebody who could put me on AZT.  He conferred with his partner and just left it like that. [Were they caucasian doctors?] A Jewish doctor and an East Indian doctor.  There was no pre- nor post-test counseling.  And when I asked for my records so that I could follow-up on the cyst, they directed me to the records department and said that I could take them to any doctor I’d like.  They didn’t offer to treat me any further.  So I was like in the street.”

Joe Long

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GRATITUDE TO SUPPORTERS OF FIRST NATIONAL POC LGBT CONVENING

Dear Convening Attendees and Supporters,

It is with heartfelt gratitude I express THANKS to everyone for your presence, for your participation both during and after, for the beginning of a national movement/network, however you choose to define it, that will address issues pertaining to POC LGBT aging.  The First National Convening on POC LGBT Aging was a phenomenal gathering, please applaud yourselves for a job well done!!

Glen-Michael Francis, Exec. Dir., GRIOT Circle.

To all the staff of GRIOT Circle…Bonnie Harrison, Anthony McPhatter, Victor Pond and Daniella Noel who went beyond the call of duty and put their brightest foot forward to create an outstanding Convening.

To Brian de Vries for always being informative and supportive, a man of truth and clarity.  To Kyaien O. Conner for your brilliance and impressive level of research that opened so many people’s eyes to the disparate needs of LGBT POC aging.  Your presentation was amazing!  Thank you.

Chezia Carraway, my Elder Mentor Sister Friend, lots of love!  Thanks!  And to Helena Bushong for being the voice of our Trans-elder community that is far too often invisible at these important gatherings.  You rock!

Aisha Young for continuing to be the leader that you are!  Laurens Van Sluytman for always being in GRIOT’s–and my–corner, a guy you can count on!  Much Love!  Jay Blackwell you know how I feel about you and your support!  Louis Colbert for your kind words, as you know, we got work to do!!!! 

Carmelita Tursi for always being so very understanding and supportive, and for being available and open to the new kids on the block! Talk soon!?   Hutson Inniss for coming in and doing the work necessary, thanks man!  Jewelle Gomez for being a great elder and movement leader.  Nancy Bereano, your mentorship and love is felt!   Brendalynn Goodall, my SISTA friend, for always having my back and just being a great supporter friend!

To Michelle Alcedo, my SFAM, for your continued energy and support!  Hope Barrett great seeing you as always, thanks for your words of encouragement.  Rev. Jaynce Jackson thanks for your words and for keeping everyone focused on why we were there.  To Sharon Day for bringing our native brothers’ and sisters’ voices to the table!  Don’t forget to say hi to Jackie for me!

Pauline Park thank you, it’s always good to have your voice in the room!  Tony Sarmiento what can I say, let’s make some noise, your brother in the struggle!  Mr. Bryan Epps from the moment I reached out to you, you were on board and have remained consistent in the process.  Thank you.  Let’s have lunch soon!

Mario Tapia we have got to do some more work together, let’s present our own initiative to the City Council and get it funded.  Call me!  Carmen Vazquez thanks.  That’s all I can say, thank you!!   Dion Wong  you brought a new clarity to the meaning of working in POC communities, I am humbled.

Dr. Rawha Haile, who was scheduled to be at the convening, was unable to attend because her father passed away.  I want to take this time to send out special thoughts of comfort, and a blessing to you and your family in celebration of your father’s amazing life!

Cheryl Reese thank you for being that voice in the room!  We got your information.  Imam Daayiee Abdullah thanks for lending your expertise to  this conversation!  Tracy Cooper you hit this one out the ballpark!  I knew you would!  To Edwin L. Walker, Senator Benjamin Cruz, the ASA/LAIN and all the participants I met … WE THANK YOU ALL.

GRIOT Circle is committed to working within and with the systems/committees to develop structure and support for the network.  We are also here to help with whatever else we can to move this project forward.  As I said during the closing plenary, it was not designed for GRIOT to be in charge of the network, that power is yours, it has to be organic and coming from the members, much like how we run GRIOT Circle.  We were the vehicle to bring us all together, now let us all build a network we can all be proud of.

With warm regards,

Glen-Michael Francis

Executive Director

GRIOT Circle, Inc.

NATIONAL POC LGBT CONVENING: DAY TWO OVERVIEW

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 Panel: Senator Benjamin Cruz, Brian de Vries, PhD, Mario E. Tapia, Helena Bushong and Kyaien O. Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH.

Laurens Van Sluytman, PhD.

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.

Dr. Kyaien O. Conner (center) presents an excerpt from her research on disparities faced by POC LGBT elders.

Panel facilitator Bonnie Harrison, MSHC (foreground).

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%.

Senator Benjamin Cruz and Brian de Vries, PhD.

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.

Brian de Vries, PhD, Mario E. Tapia, Helena Bushong and Dr. Kyaien O. Conner.

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.

Nancy K. Bereano.

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?

Imam Daayiee Abdullah, Dir. LGBT Services, Muslims for Progressive Values.

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?

Taike S. Brundige and Curtis Lipscomb applaud Dr. Conner's impressive research work.

Rev. Jaynce Jackson, Mandy Carter, Jewelle Gomez and Chezia Carraway, LCSW, PHE.

Please revisit our blog for additional reports, outcomes, updates and first-person offerings from participants at the First National POC LGBT National Convening.

PHOTO GALLERY: THE FIRST CONVENING

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.

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Photography by SeanDrakes.com

FIRST NATIONAL POC LGBT CONVENING BEGINS

Oct. 11, 2011, Washington, D.C. — Professionals on aging in the people of color LGBT community arrived in the nation’s capital today for the First National POC LGBT Convening on Aging.  The two-day convening intends to build a network that strengthens alliances and fosters ongoing collaborations and broader discourse on issues, challenges and policies that effect the elder POC LGBT community.  The conference is a collaboration of the American Society on Aging‘s LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) and GRIOT Circle, and is hosted at Brickfield Center with generous support from AARP and funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies.

The networking and opening reception allowed colleagues to meet and greet, some for the first time, and break bread together, before tackling the itinerary of workshops, small group sessions and facilitated panel dialogues on Wednesday and Thursday.  The evening closed with attendees screening three short film projects that document the trials and triumphs of some members of the elder POC LGBT community.  Michelle Alcedo of Openhouse in San Francisco showed her work-in-progress, GRIOT Circle shared the first installment of its Elders Speak series, and Hope Barrett of Center on Halsted in Chicago showed a portion of their documentary on LGBT elders living with HIV.

Helena Bushong, Trans-elder Community Advocate/Activist and Jewelle Gomez, Dir., Horizons Foundation.

Glen Francis, Exec. Dir., GRIOT Circle and Nancy Bereano.

Brian de Vries, Ph.D., prof. of gerontology, San Francisco State University, Dion Wong, coordinator, Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, and Scott Haitsuka, BASW, MSW intern.

Nancy Hinds, Brendalyn R. Goodall, MSW, and Marta Ames, Deputy Dir., Senior Service America.

Glen Francis, E.D., GRIOT Circle, Pauline Park, Chair, New York Assoc. for Gender Rights Advocacy, Helena Bushong, Trans-elder Community Advocate/Activist, Michelle Alcedo, Hope Barrett, MPH, Center on Halsted, and Scott Haitsuka, BASW, MSW intern.

Curtis Lipscomb, Exec. Dir., KICK-The Ageny for LGBT African-Americans, Donald Burch and (at far right) Nancy Bereano.

Anthony McPhatter, Fiscal Manager, GRIOT Circle and Aisha C. Young, M.A. AAC, Pres. & CEO, African-Americans in Gerontology.

Mario E. Tapia, E.D., Pres. & CEO, Latino Center on Aging, Laurens Van Sluytman, PhD, Assoc. Professor of Social Work, Morgan State College and Bonnie Harrison, MSHC, LMHC, Dir. Program Services and Evaluation, GRIOT Circle.

Nancy Hinds and Don Kao, Director, Project Reach.

National Convening participants at opening reception view short films presented by the Center on Halsted in Chicago, GRIOT Circle of Brooklyn, and Michelle Alcedo of Openhouse-San Francisco.