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.