We've Always Been Here: Celebrating SAGE's Impact on LGBTQ+ Elders

June 20, 2024
by Oluchi Pitts, Associate, Marketing at Rebuilding Together National

As we celebrate Pride Month, it's the perfect time to highlight the incredible work being done to support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community. In our latest podcast episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Darcy Connors, the Executive Director of SAGEServes. Darcy leads SAGE’s flagship community services and housing-based services programs, including care management, LGBTQ+-friendly housing, behavioral health, outreach programs and SAGE Center programming. During our conversation, we discussed the history of SAGE, their mission and the impactful work they are doing to support LGBTQ+ elders in aging safely and securely in their communities.

The significance of SAGE's work is underscored by the statistics: LGBTQ+ older adults are expected to number over 7 million by 2030. They are four times less likely to have children and twice as likely to face poverty and live alone. Moreover, over half of LGBTQ+ older adults have experienced discrimination in the workplace or housing. SAGE’s mission is to combat these issues and provide a supportive community for queer elders.

SAGE supports queer elders in aging in place through various programs and services designed to meet their unique needs. From LGBTQ+-friendly housing options, like Stonewall House, New York City’s first-ever LGBTQ+-welcoming senior housing, to comprehensive care management and outreach programs, SAGE ensures that older adults receive the support they need. Stonewall House opened its doors in 2019, which was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising that occurred on June 28, 1969.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of SAGE’s mission. In 2023, SAGE and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation received the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award at the On Aging 2023 Conference, hosted by the American Society on Aging. Darcy shared some strategies for fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging: "Get to know each other. It's always so powerful in housing, especially if you're providing housing or living in housing. When we become a part of our communities, it creates such an ease in access to each other and different cultures." This approach not only builds stronger communities but also ensures that everyone feels valued and respected.

Addressing misconceptions and challenges faced by queer elders in accessing housing and community support is crucial. Advocacy plays a key role in this and Darcy encourages individuals and communities to get involved: “If you know an LGBTQ+ elder or you don't, get to know one. Reach out to SAGE; we have great programs nationally that can help connect you. It's just so impactful to know the stories of folks who’ve been there. Folks who've marched with Marsha and Sylvia at Stonewall. Who may have even thrown some bricks in some cases. It's just so impactful. Even folks who have just been hairdressers their whole lives and are happy to be out in their 70's. It really is so beautiful to hear that we've always been here.”

As we celebrate Pride Month, we invite you to listen to the full episode about SAGE on [Re]Builders, available only on Spotify. Don’t forget to tune in on the third Thursday of every month for new episodes!