SAGE Raleigh is a program designed to advocate and provide services for the older LGBT population, aged 50 and better. Originally known as the “Gay & Gray Initiative,” this program was born in the Spring of 2011 and has grown exponentially since.
In the years since our founding we have conducted focus groups with our constituents, published several surveys, and held meetings with our members to determine what kind of organization they wanted us to be. In the final analysis, these were the categories which gained the most attention:
- Social activities (by far the most interest)
- Educational activities
- Health care issues
- Housing issues
As a result, we have held many social events including dances, pot lucks, picnics, and outings to museums, theaters, and movies. We have also held workshops on topics as diverse as Ageism, Intentional Housing, HIV Awareness, Internet Security, Transgender issues, and many others. We have invited housing developers to bring us up to date on what communal housing might look like and how soon it will be available. We have worked with the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill to develop a statewide needs assessment for our community. Currently we are working with the Area Agency on Aging to produce a regular series of Lunch & Learn events at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on issues such as elder abuse. And our plans for the future are just as diverse and ambitious.
The City of Raleigh has found our services to be valuable enough that they have twice awarded SAGE Raleigh a grant to help us run our Thursday morning drop-in hours at the Center. We have the Center to ourselves every Thursday morning for our friends to come in, have a cup of coffee and a pastry, and sit around and chat. The SAGE Raleigh women have a special luncheon on the last Monday of every month. And on the last Thursday of every month we all go out to lunch at a nearby restaurant to have a fun meal.
In 2013 the Gay & Gray Initiative became affiliated with the national organization headquartered in New York City known as SAGE – Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. Now known as SAGE Raleigh, we earned this honor by achieving a rigorous set of goals put forth by SAGE, and we are now reaping the benefits of our collaboration. With a generous grant from national SAGE we are ready to embark on a program called SAGE Story; this is both a training course for some of us, as well as an advocacy program that will be used throughout the state of North Carolina to highlight the result of discrimination and how it has affected many of us in the LGBT community. The program will also go national along with those of the 23 other SAGE affiliates throughout the US.
The mission of Gay & Gray, and now SAGE Raleigh is, and will always be to advocate for our Seniors, to provide a safe and welcoming space at the Center, and to end Social Isolation for the most vulnerable of our population.