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Gay and Grey continues to grow with SAGE

Gay & Grey members at Pride

If you aren’t a grandparent, or don’t happen to have a gay one, then you might not be aware of Portland’s program for LGBT senior citizens. But yes, Portland has such a program (it has an LGBT group for everything, doesn’t it?), and some good things are happening there.

The program is cleverly named Gay & Grey and is run by the nonprofit Friendly House. Friendly House Executive Director Vaune Albanese anounced that Gay & Grey is now a part of a national nonprofit that will help Portland’s program raise funds and expand its services. The national program is also cleverly named: SAGE, which stands for Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders.

“Becoming a SAGE affiliate has been our goal for over a year. Being a part of the SAGE network will connect Friendly House and our staff members to leaders in the LGBT aging field from different parts of the country,” Albanese said in a press release.

Programs like Gay & Grey and SAGE exist because LGBT senior citizens, believe it or not, face just as much discrimination as we young’uns. Sometimes more. When they go into nursing homes, they often go back inside the closet because their peers are, well, from a less understanding time. And the staff often aren’t properly trained to handle LGBT issues. For example, some nursing home residents aren’t allowed to see their significant others because they’re not legally married.

And even if older gays and lesbians remain in their own homes, they often face severe loneliness because many of them grow up childless and have no remaining family members.

Gay & Grey works to combat these problems particularly though what it calls “diversity tranings.” It organizes these trainings for nursing homes, schools and other groups to make people aware of the issues LGBT seniors face.

In fact, a local proffesor whose students receive these trainings, Dr. Anissa Rogers of University of Portland, is presenting at the Society for Social Work and Research, a prestigious national conference in Washington, D.C., about the effectiveness of the trainings and the Gay & Grey program. The trainings have been so popular with Rogers’ students that some of the students have changed their focuses to learn more about LGBT and other minority populations.

So if you haven’t, go check out Gay & Grey. They’re there to help, and they’re always looking for volunteers.

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