SAGE Metro Detroit held a virtual version of their annual LGBTQ+ Older Adult Summit June 26. Last year’s summit was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is “one of the longest-running annual events focused on LGBTQ aging in the country,” according to SAGE’s website.
SAGE Metro Detroit is the local affiliate of the national Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the “country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults,” according to the site.
Communications Manager Emell Adolphus reports that “112 people registered to receive information and resources for the summit [and more] than 45 people attended the live summit.” Sponsors included AARP Michigan, AA1B, Hannan Center and LaTosch Consulting.
Severe weather knocked out the power for some attendees and presenters, complicating the event’s virtual format. Programs and Events Director Cornelis Wilson also lost power and managed to host the entire eight-hour summit from his phone.
Judy Lewis, SAGE’s Training and Education Manager, sang Wilson’s praises. “If he hadn’t shared [the fact that he lost power], no one would have known,” she says via email. “Smooth as silk!”
SAGE Executive Director Angie Perone agrees, saying,”Cornelis Wilson did a great job running the show.”
“Our community, we have a long history of being resilient and flexible, so we adapted, and I think the event went really well” despite the power outage, Perone says, though a cabaret performance during lunch had to be canceled because the performers had a flooded basement. “We had phenomenal presentations and really great sessions by the folks who presented.”
The summit featured seven presenters with workshops such as “The Space Between Us: Exploring Intersectionality of Racism, Ageism, and Allyship” with Kat LaTosch and a workshop about religious liberties with Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow.
“This was our 10th anniversary, and we were really excited to kind of take it into some new territory this year,” Perone says, including some “tough conversations” about ageism, sexism, and the need for the LGBTQ+ community to be active in anti-racism work on a personal and structural level.
A number of awards were also presented. The Trailblazer Award was given to Robert Tate, Alice McKeage received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Volunteer of the Year award went to both Greg Cherry and Richard Novak.
Perone says they hope to have next year’s summit in person while maintaining the accessibility unique to a virtual event. “I think there’s a hope that we’ll be able to do some piece of it in person, if not the entire thing,” she says, adding that she didn’t want to abandon “connecting with people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.”
This was Perone’s last summit as Executive Director. “At the end of July, I ‘ll be leaving,” she says. “We’re in the process of hiring a new Executive Director, and hopefully, we’ll be able to make that announcement at the end of next month.”
For more information about SAGE visit https://www.sagemetrodetroit.org