Category Archives: Personal Passions

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!





Since the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals is the first of its kind, the GRIOT Circle Blog will serve as a portal to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of this event to the LGBT elders of color community.

So here we go, this is post #1 in the Q&A series. Please use the comment tab at the bottom of the post to expand the discussion on this topic.


During the October 12-13, 2011 Convening in Washington, D.C., we will engage in very active discussions around identifying multiple variables that have contributed to the isolation, stigmatization, poor health outcomes and alienation of the LGBT POC elder community.  There will also be discussions and strategy-building for the implementation of best practices to ensure equal access to culturally competent care.  Out of this convening will emerge a policy research/writing committee and an operational structure for a National Network.


“Wisdom is knowing what to do next.  Virtue is doing it.” ~ David Starr Jordan.

This convening will mark the creation of an innovative National interagency LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) POC (People of Color) aging communication network.  The Convening is a public action statement to the urgency of addressing issues of chronic health disparities among this population.

Racial and ethnic minorities have higher morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases.  The consequences can range from greater financial burden to higher activity limitations.  Among older adults, a higher proportion of African Americans and Latinos, compared to Whites, report to have at least one of seven chronic conditions — asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or anxiety/depression.  These rank among the most costly medical conditions in America.  African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely to be limited in an activity (e.g., work, walking, bathing, or dressing) due to chronic conditions.

Compounding matters is the fact that LGBT seniors face special difficulties as well.  These seniors are “twice-hidden” due to social discrimination on two levels: ageism and homophobia or heterosexism.  LGBT seniors of color have the additional burden of chronic environmental stressors rooted in racism that has been shown to be a major contributor to disabling health conditions.


Not exactly.  Town hall meetings are an informal public meeting where everybody in a town community are invited to attend, not always to voice their opinions, but to hear the responses from public figures and (if applicable) elected officials about shared subjects of interest.

This Convening is an assembling of carefully selected/referred national POC professionals and elders all of whom have proven records of health care justice advocacy for the elderly and for the LGBT POC elderly in particular.  One of the principal goals is the exploration of adult transformational learning strategies and the collective discovery of new/innovative solutions to the health crisis faced by LGBT POC elders.

This Convening follows a definite structure intended to maximize the contributions of those experts who have confirmed their attendance and participation.  The whole experience is interactive and experiential.  There will be two panels, two workshops, but the heart of the Convening will center on small group work, each group assigned specific topics and specific  outcomes.

We continue this dialogue next week, please check back for more insights on the National Convening of Aging Professionals, or simply put your email address in the GET GRIOT BLOG UPDATES slot in the left column to receive alerts of new posts on the GRIOT Circle Blog.

Now THIS is a Great Dose of Inspiration

“My new inspiration!!  I received my motorcycle license at age 61. 

Now I plan to ride for another 15 years at least LOL!!”  L.

Click the red link below to see video —>

THIS is an Inspirational Portrayal of the Power of the Human Spirit.

Everyone’s a Little Bi-curious

You don’t have to be a resident of Houston, Los Angeles or Miami to realize most everyone you encounter is bilingual.  Last week I took the leap, broke through my fear and claimed the courage to start learning Spanish.  I found free beginner classes at a local library.  That day I was one of two newcomers to the class of just nine students, most of whom are retirees who work part-time and refuse to stop learning.  I was off to a slow start since my classmates have been students of Miss Nellie for a year, and others for just two weeks.  After the one-hour class some students approached me to offer encouragement to return since I seemed to struggle.  Then we sat and talked for an hour about our housing horror stories, discovered similar interests and planned to meet for cocktails.

So what’s holding you back from at least learning the basics of a language that  has popped up all around you or interests you or would give you an advantage socially or professionally?  Demographic statistics from a 2008 report reveal 34% of the population in America speaks Spanish.  In most demographic reports tracking ethnic cultures, Spanish influence has been on a steady upswing.  But French and Italian can also be fun and useful in your daily routine.  It’s often easier to read about getting started on a new project than actually launching through the start gate.  So for an added nudge here are some tips to help you take the next step to being less bi-curious and actually bilingual:

> Get a friend to enroll with you and be your practice sounding board, and vice versa.  If your friends are reluctant, rest assured you will make new friends in the class who will be eager to be practice pals.

> Set realistic goals like learning the most common greetings, statements and questions asked in public settings.  And don’t rush the process, keep it fun.  Learn at your pace.

>  Ask the librarian at a nearby branch to search their computer database for free community classes.  Also inquire at local community centers.  You may be required to make a copy of a page or two for your use in each session.  The best part is there are no tests to take!

Did you or someone you know just start a language class,  how is it going?  Is this something you have been putting off, why?