Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders ( SAGE ) , located at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, is receiving $475,000, thanks to a request from U.S.
Congressman Mike Quigley, D-Ill., according to Serena Worthington, the center's senior director of public programs.
According to the Center on Halsted Web site, SAGE "in collaboration with Chicagoland's older adult population, offers comprehensive programming based on the holistic wellness model.
Specific program offerings are informed by participant input, research in LGBT aging, planning meetings and the guidance of the 16-member SAGE Advisory Council."
Worthington told Windy City Times that the process to receive the grant took two years, applying to Rahm Emanuel when he was congressman of the district. ( She led SAGE up until September, and helped write the original proposal. )
Quigley requested the amount against last year, shortly after being sworn in April 21.
Regarding the utilization of the grant, Worthington said the money would be used toward "special programs, [ including ] research on cognitive loss in adults with HIV; adaptive computer equipment for seniors; a constitutent advocacy initiative that could include work in Springfield, work in Chicago; cultural-competency training for senior service providers; and an HIV-prevention film for individuals over 50."
She added that the last item "is motivated by a statistic about newly infected people that says 15 percent of them are over 50so, clearly, prevention messages need to be looked at again. I think it would be really powerful for seniors to write a film about prevention that's really candid.... People are having sex a lot later than people think and, certainly, transmission is happening through sex or drug use."
Worthington said that receiving the grant "is a tremendous affirmation of the great work that SAGE has accomplished in its 12 years of serving LGBT older adults. ... We really are very excited. In my opinion, receiving [ the grant ] is indicative of a growing awareness of the unique needs and strengths of LGBT seniors."
In a statement to Windy City Times, Quigley said, "I firmly believe that federal dollars should not be used to curry political favor with private companies but rather have a direct impact on local families by funding worthwhile public or non-profit projects. That's why I'm proud to be able to provide support for critical community programs like Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual and Transgender Elders at the Center on Halsted. SAGE directly addresses the unique challenges of LGBT seniors by seeking to assist and improve their quality of life, which has often been marked by discrimination and inequity. I will never stop fighting for equality and treasure the opportunity of representing SAGE in my district."
Federal funds to support LGBT elders are rare. In 2009, the U.S. Administration on Aging funded a $1.2-million, three-year grant for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. On Feb. 10, 2010, HHS awarded a $900,000 threeyear grant to New York City's SAGE in order to create the first and only national resource center on LGBT aging.
According to a 2008 Newsweek article, persons in the United States who are 65 and older are expected to grow from about 12 to 20 percent of the total population, and LGBT individuals will make up 7 to 10 percent of that senior population.