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SAGE and the LGBT Elderly - Essay Example

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The legalization of homosexual marriages in New York and the long-overdue abolition of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the United States military are in a large part the results of campaigns generated nationwide by lesbian and gay activists. …
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SAGE and the LGBT Elderly
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Download file to see previous pages The images in the campaign are often of gays and lesbians in the prime of their lives, enjoying and celebrating their sexual choices and the freedoms to exercise these choices.
But while campaigns such as these surface important and urgent issues that society needs to know about, it also obscures an important narrative: that of the aging homosexual, rendered forgotten and made invisible by a youth-obsessed society that refuses to see and acknowledge the sexual agency of its more elderly members. This where the organization SAGE (Service and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders) comes in. It is the largest and oldest organization in America devoted to promoting the welfare of LGBT senior citizens and make sure that their voices do not get lost in a cacophony of voices. It seeks as well to address the particular vulnerabilities that affect the LGBT elders, who are often socially isolated and find themselves at the hands of culturally-insensitive medical practitioners. To quote their website, “With LGBT older adults twice as likely to live alone than heterosexual older adults, more than four times as likely to have no children, the informal caregiving support we assume is in place for older adults may not be there for LGBT elders.”
Seeking to address this need, SAGE formed itself in 1978. It delivers services to LGBT elders in New York City but also pushes for policy reforms at the national level, and provides technical assistance to similarly-minded groups all over the country. It is not however a simple issue of sterile technical assistance.
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ceptibility to the hate agenda of conservative groups, SAGE employs a radical organizing component as well (Reisch, 2005: 288) – that is to say, “the replacement of oppressive institutions, conditions, systems and practices with ones that reflect principles of justice, equity and respect for human diversity.” (ibid.) How does anthropology come into the picture? Anthropology is a useful tool by which we study how the concepts and constructs of homosexuality evolve over time. To quote Weston (1993: 339), The same socio-historical conditions that facilitated the development of a gay movement in the United States, combined with the efforts of a hardy few who risked not only censure but their careers, allowed homosexuality to move to the center of scholarly attention. Though the field of lesbian/gay studies in anthropology has been slower to develop than its counterparts in literary studies or history, by the 1990s ethnographic analysis of homosexual behavior and identity, ‘gender bending’, lesbian and gay male communities, transgressive sexual practices and homosexuality were flourishing. It is also helpful here to discuss the notion of intersectionality – that which looks at the multiple, socially-constructed categories that interact in complex and multidimensional ways to produce and reproduce structures of inequality. It is hinged in the idea that themes of gender, race, class, and indeed age, should be perceived not as independent from each other, but as overlapping structures of oppression and exploitation that must be addressed and resisted together as it “shapes those upon whom it bestows privilege as well as those it oppresses.” (Frankenberg: 1993: 131).” In their website, SAGE enumerated three specific fundamental problems that they wish to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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