BY AJ TRAGER
DETROIT – The sixth annual LGBT Older Adult Summit will be held June 18 organized by SAGE Metro Detroit and offers LGBT older adults a chance to build stronger social connections and learn about resources to strengthen their financial, social and activist lives.
This year’s summit will offer multiple panels, complimentary breakfast and brunch and will feature Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of Between The Lines, as the keynote speaker. With marriage equality the law of the land, LGBT folks are more out and visible and the Affordable Care Act has helped to make healthcare more affordable to LGBT older adults and others who didn’t have it before. In the upcoming months SAGE Metro Detroit will take a look at what the challenges are for the LGBT community moving forward and how best to address them.
“We will be taking a look at the landscape for what is still going on like the trans bathroom issue, black lives matter/all lives matter, educational issues and issues like the Flint water crisis. As a part of the LGBT community ourselves, where do we fit in as older adults? We played a role in a lot of the things that occurred in the past, but what do we do now? Do we fold it up and see what happens or do you stay involved and make things happen? If that’s the case what do you want to see happen or change? How do we engage more young people other than Pride? How do we engage more trans people in the LGB complementation?” Cornelius Wilson, treasurer of the board of SAGE Metro Detroit and organizer of the summit told BTL.
Wilson would like SAGE to continue the conversation on the intersections of LGBT identities and how the organization can work to unite people.
“As a community, to be inclusive and supportive there are various points where we have to step up and stand out together and let society see that this, inclusiveness and equality, are issues of society not a particular community. All those things that we say we want – we have to walk the walk. We have to stand in the middle of the stage and take a bow -particularly in our community. When we were younger we were wonderful, fabulous and beautiful and now some of us are retreating back into the closet. That’s why we have to have the conversation about where do we go from here,” Wilson said.
A very real and common fear for LGBT older adults is the negative or hostile treatment they may receive in Michigan long-term care facilities or when the medical profession is treating them. Many LGBT older adults go back into the closet for fear of being harassed or even physically assaulted in spaces that they previously considered safe.
“We can’t have them going back into the closet. Now is a time when they should be enjoying the sunset of their lives. They should be sipping cocktails and not running in and hiding because they’re fearful of how they will be treated in the healthcare industry or the aid community. We need to address that,” Wilson stressed.
The sixth annual LGBT Older Adult Summit will begin at 9 a.m. at the MSU Detroit Campus. Much like previous years, attendees will participate in an array of workshops including a panel discussion on the legal rights for couples and what folks should know whether they’re married or not facilitated by Jay Kaplan of the ACLU; a presentation from AARP on care giving; a financial discussion for LGBT couples presented by Waddell & Reed, Inc, Financial Advisers; and a presentation by Vincent Tilford, the executive director of the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation who will discuss ageism.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Atiba Cohen and Carolee Moss who were very involved in older adult services. Unfortunately, both women passed away unexpectedly within the last year.
The organization, formally known as the LGBT Older Adult Coalition, changed its name last November after it was approved as one of 29 chapters of SAGE (Services & Advocacy For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders), the nation’s largest and longest serving organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults. Through its work, the Metro Detroit chapter of SAGE aims to provide premier LGBT cultural competency training, help create safe spaces and provide a framework for many programs and services that are lacking for LGBT older adults in the area.
To sign up for the event go to 6th annual.
The MSU Detroit Campus is located at 3408 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Call 734-681-0854 or email SAGE Metro Detroit at info@SAGEMetroDetroit.org for more information.