Category Archives: Our Rich Legacy

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!

 

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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

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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WHY THE NATIONAL CONVENING ON POC LGBT AGING IS NEEDED

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.

Kyaien O. Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry and Daphne Collier.

Freddie Don Little, MPH, Sharon M. Day, E.D., Indigenous Peoples Task Force and Dion Wong, Gay Asian Pacific Alliance.

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.

Rev. Janyce L. Jackson, Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church, Glen Francis, E.D., GRIOT Circle and Don Kao, Dir. Project Reach.

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.

NATIONAL POC LGBT CONVENING: DAY ONE HIGHLIGHT

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.

Carmelita Tursi, Senior Diversity Officer, AARP.

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.

Sharon M. Day, Mandy Carter and Tony Sarmiento.

Jewelle Gomez (2nd from right).

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.

Bryan Epps, Senior Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor’s Office

Panelist Christopher Bates and facilitator Chezia Carraway, LCSW, PHE.

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.

Helena Bushong, Trans-elder Community Advocate/Activist.

Jay Blackwell, Sharon M. Day, Mandy Carter, Tony Sarmiento and Jewelle Gomez.

Glen Francis, E.D., GRIOT Circle, Brian de Vries, PhD, San Francisco State Univ., Carmelita Tursi, Senior Diversity Advisor, AARP and Clarence Fluker, Office of GLBT Affairs, D.C. Mayor's Office.

Workshops: Cheryl D. Reese and Bonnie Harrison.

 

Convening Coordinator Victor Pond is flanked by Chezia Carraway and Christopher Bates at end of first panel discussion.

 

 

 

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.

GRIOT Gratitude

 

Mind Your Own Life: Author Aaron Anson Discusses His Book

Author Arthur Anson. Photo courtesy Oliver Anson.

What is the overall message that you would like your readers to gain from your book?

My book is about engaging our own minds to seek and reconcile our own truths with God, or the source that created us all. It is not as important as we’ve been taught to give names to the unnameable, but more important to recognize that we came into existence instinctively knowing only love, and our beliefs and inherited prejudices were taught to us by others who in turn had those beliefs instilled and taught to them as well.

What can people 50 and over learn from “Mind Your Own Life”?

This journey back to love is one we can begin at any point in our lives. We cannot be held captive to the truths of others. We should reconcile for ourselves, and when we know a truth is inherently ours and agrees with us we should hold steadfast to our own knowing. We can acknowledge how we have passed down our own taught beliefs to others after us and how our inherited beliefs has affected our relationship with those we profess to love. If we can see where we came from, we can better understand where we are going and perhaps objectively encourage others more positively. More families, marriages and relationships have been destroyed in the name of religion then we care to admit.

To Read Full Story, Please Click Here –> Mind Your Own Life, Interview with Aaron Anson — AARP.