• Nii-Quartelai Quartey, AARP’s national LGBT liaison, speaks to the crowd at the Sage Metro Detroit LGBT Older Adult Summit. (BTL photo: Jason A. Michael)

AARP National LGBT Liaison Reports on LGBT Aging at SAGE Conference

Jason A. Michael
By | 2018-06-27T16:22:37-04:00 June 27th, 2018|Michigan, News|

One doesn’t always think of the acronyms AARP and LGBT as having anything in common. But, if AARP’s National LGBT Liaison Nii-Quartelai Quartey has his way, the public will come to know that they do. Speaking at Saturday’s LGBT Older Adult Summit, Quartey talked about his work.
“As somebody that was recruited to AARP two years ago to lead this work, to lead our LGBT affairs work among other things, I get pure delight out of the opportunity to change the conversation on aging by finding LGBTs to bring into it,” he said.
Quartey started out his keynote address by pointing out basic statistics that show the strength and power of seniors today. These include the facts that by 2030, over a fifth of the population will be over the age of 65, if you are 10 years old or younger today you have a 50-50 chance of living to 104 and that 51 cents of every dollar that circulates in the U.S. is from someone over 50.
“The way that people are aging is changing,” Quartey said. “What 50 looks like and feels like today might not look or feel like our grandparents’ 50, or our great-grandparents’ 50.”
Quartey spent much of his time talking about what he called AARP’s new landmark LGBT research, specifically their newly-published work “Maintaining Dignity: A Survey of LGBT Adults Age 45 and Older.”
The report, which can be found online at aarp.org/pride, features the results of nearly 1,800 respondents. AARP also worked with several national agencies on their research and “recruited to the table” such groups as the Center for Black Equity, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Victory Fund Institute, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.
“You know why we [brought them in]?” Quartey asked attendees. “Because we’re serious. You know why we’re serious? Because we understand that not only are LGBT folks vulnerable but if you’re LGBT and a person of color you are even more vulnerable.”
SAGE-Metro Detroit Executive Director Angela Perone, lauded the findings of the report.
“AARP’s recent survey Maintaining Dignity underscored several areas that need more attention for LGBT older adults including training for healthcare providers, reducing social isolation and increasing LGBT-welcoming housing,” Perone said. “SAGE Metro Detroit is working on all of these areas — and on a very shoestring budget. We are proud of the partnerships we have already developed and excited to build more collaborations to tackle these critical issues.”
The SAGE conference, which drew a crowd of about 150, featured other keynote speakers such as Kofi Adoma, who spoke on “Living Long, Living Well,” Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow on “Bringing Spirituality Out of the Closet,” Joe Kort on “Cracking the Erotic Code: How Your Sexuality Changes Over the Lifespan” and Jay Kaplan on “Recent Legal and Policy Developments for LGBT Older Adults.” SAGE Metro Detroit also presented a Lifetime Achievement award to Jim Toy and a Volunteer of the Year award to Albert Stumpmeir.
“This year marked one of our most successful Summits yet, with record-level attendance and community support, and a diverse group of dynamic speakers,” said Perone. “Our community sponsors and vendors allowed us to provide free breakfast, lunch and valet parking. We know that transportation issues can pose barriers for many older adults in attending programs, and we heard from several people that the free valet parking encouraged them to attend.”
Perone said the summit provides one of the few places LGBT older adults and allies can gather to focus on issues impacting LGBT older adults.
“This year’s day-long event focused on health and well-being,” she said. “While the statistics on health disparities and support for LGBT older adults are very discouraging, we also know that LGBT older adults are a resilient community and have a long history of supporting each other.”
More information about SAGE can be found online at http://sagemetrodetroit.org.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.