Blog Archives

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.

INSIGHTS ON CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS – Post 3

In effort to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals, GRIOT Circle provides post #3 in this Q&A series.

Please use the comment tab at the bottom of this post to expand the discussion on this topic and present your questions.

WHICH ORGANIZATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO ATTEND THE CONVENING?

We have listed, to name a few: African Americans in Gerontology, Administration on Aging, Office of Minority Health (Capacity Building Division), OpenHouse, GRIOT Circle, Senior Service America Inc., Delaware County Office of Services, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and National Coalition for LGBT Health.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES SLATED TO BE ADDRESSED AT THE CONVENING?

We will have active conversations around older adult related topics such as: elder abuse, employment/retirement, housing, health literacy, immigration/migration, marriage equality, HIV/AIDS/STD prevention/care, religion/spirituality, etc.

IF I CAN’T BE IN WASHINGTON, DC, OCTOBER 12-13, HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVENING?

One of the intended outcomes of this Convening is the formation of a National Network of POC led organizations/providers and POC/LGBT elders.  At the Convening we will strategize mechanisms for inclusion/participation of all those who wish to be part of this historic movement.  It is likely we will rely greatly on social media, mass marketing, and other forms of outreach/communication to maximize inclusion, diversity and on going collaborations.

HOW IS THE US GOVERNMENT (MY TAX DOLLARS) INVOLVED IN THE CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS?

This Convening is being funded via the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation and in-kind donations from AARP.

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.

INSIGHTS ON CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS – Post 2

In effort to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals, GRIOT Circle provides post #2 in this Q&A series.

Please use the comment tab at the bottom of this post to expand the discussion on this topic and present your questions.

HOW DOES THIS EVENT DIRECTLY EFFECT MY LIFE?

LGBT people of color elders remain on the fringes of society, marginalized, stigmatized and invisible.  This Convening is a public statement alerting the general public and health care officials of the urgency to allocate funding and resources to address the specific needs of LGBT POC elders.  This Convening also serves as a launch pad for a national network of people of color-led agencies that will more effectively advocate and rally for funding, write new policies and actively promote culturally competent practices as they relate to health care provision to the LGBT POC elder population.  This means you will have people championing for your needs.  You won’t have to wander aimlessly in search of safe, welcoming and affirming spaces.

HOW DO I ASSURE MY VOICE AND ISSUES ARE REPRESENTED AND ADDRESSED AT THE CONVENING?

Since this is not a town hall meeting, we are relying on the professionals and elders that are scheduled to attend the Convening to articulate the needs and issues of LGBT POC elders in this country.

In addition, the richness of the information that will be shared and discussed is due primarily to the ethnic, racial, gender, sexuality and diversity of both lay and professional participants.

HOW ARE THE ISSUES ADDRESSED AT THE CONVENING PRIORITIZED?

The issues addressed at the convening are directly rooted in the morbidity/mortality reality of the POC aging population.  They also directly coincide with federal health care priorities that have been identified by a cross section of public health care agencies (i.e., Office of Minority Health, Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services, American Society on Aging, etc.).

IS THIS AN INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE OR DO I HAVE TO BE IN WASHINGTON, DC TO PARTICIPATE?

The Convening is a two-day event that will be held in Washington, D.C. with the active participation of those invited to attend.

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.

Actors Promoting Same-sex Public Kissing…Hmmm?

What’s all the hype about over iconic actor Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover doing some public lip-locking as a show of congratulations and support, from one brother to another?

Actors Glover (left) & Belafonte kiss at BET Awards.

The first radar-grabbing affectionate encounter happened at a BET Awards event a few moons ago.  Mr. Belafonte was a BET achievement honoree when Mr. Glover passionately pressed flesh with Mr. Belafonte for a brow-raising photo-opp that still has ‘straight’ Black bloggers up in arms.  Recently, the elder entertainers were caught on camera in another no-tongue dry kiss.  At a dinner party for Mr. Belafonte’s “Sing Your Song,” hosted at Bing Bar, Mr. Glover dropped by to show support and slipped another lip-tingling congratulatory kiss on Mr. Belafonte.

The blogosphere continues to use the rare show of brotherly love as a catalyst to urge an outing of these seniors.  Who mandates that Black men must confine displays of support and admiration to knuckle-bumps and sideways-V finger gestures?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Are such public figures using their senior years to shatter age-old barriers, or just seeking space in news headline?  Do you believe a public same-sex kiss reveals one’s  sexual orientation?  And, are these hot gents sparking a movement to get Black seniors to be more OUT with their affection?

INSIGHTS ON CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS – Post 1

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.

WHAT ACTUALLY TAKES PLACE AT THE CONVENING AND WHAT’S
THE EXPECTED OUTCOME?

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.

WHY IS THERE A CONVENING IN THE FIRST PLACE?

“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.

IS THIS EVENT LIKE A TOWN HALL FORUM THAT’S OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC?

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.

NATIONAL CONVENING TO ADDRESS DISPARITIES

FIRST NATIONAL CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS

Addresses disparities in services to LGBT POC older adults

[New York, NY]  On October 12-13, 2011 GRIOT Circle, in collaboration with the POC Committee of the LAIN/American Society of Aging, and with generous support from AARP and funding from Atlantic Philanthropic, will bring together national leaders on aging for the first National Convening of its kind to address the needs/concerns of this traditionally under-served population.

Hosted by AARP at the Brickfield Center at 601 East St. NW, Washington, DC on October 12-13, 2011.  The National Convening of Aging Professionals will provide insight into economic and health disparities that are services/care-based to the LGBT POC (People of Color) elder communities, a population that continues to heavily bear the brunt of stigmatization and social isolation.

Areas to be covered include: Social Security, housing, supportive services, HIV/STD prevention, culturally competent research and training, health literacy disparities, ethno-geriatrics, and other challenges for LGBT POC seniors, policy reform (LGBT POC specific), and the creation of a National Professional Network around POC LGBT Aging.

Confirmed participants/attendees include: Kathy Greenlee, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration on Aging (AoA), Jay Blackwell, Director, Office of Minority Health-Resource Center (OMH-RC), Christopher Bates, E.D., Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), Tony Sarmiento, E.D., Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI), Mandy Carter, Co-founder of National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Senator Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Vice Speaker, 31st Guam Legislature, Mario Tapia, CEO, Latino Center on Aging (LCA), and Aisha C. Young, CEO, African Americans in Gerontology (AAIG).

“I am delighted you are doing this historic convening” –Renowned social justice activist and former Arcus Foundation Executive Director, Urvashi Vaid.

GRIOT Circle, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1995.  It addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT elders of color in New York City.  Fifteen years later, GRIOT Circle continues to be the only LGBT organization in the nation that exclusively serves the LGBT POC elders 50 and older.  GRIOT is proud to be one of the leading voices on this historic occasion marking a decided shift in the health care paradigm for LGBT POC elders.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Glen-Michael Francis, 718-246-2775 | Glen@griotcircle.org

Queers for Economic Justice supports Convening, read Letter from QEJ.

The Audre Lorde Project supports Convening, read Letter from ALP.