The discounted dinners start at the appropriate “early bird” hour of 4 p.m. at Manhattan’s SAGE Center, which opened in March as the first full-time LGBT senior center in the nation.
Operated by New York City’s Department for the Aging and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders), the center offers meals, social services, and activities. Classes on wellness and workplace skills are aimed at the realities aging baby boomers face in 2012.
“Older people are working past traditional retirement age, so we tailored the SAGE Center’s hours [1–8 p.m. weekdays] to include working people,” says SAGE executive director Michael Adams.
Located on the 15th floor of a Chelsea high-rise, the 8,200-square-foot center may be an unconventional gathering space for LGBT seniors. Regardless, people from all over greater New York are already utilizing the center’s desperately needed services. Compared to their straight counterparts, older LGBT adults are twice as likely to live alone, half as likely to have a significant other, and four times as likely to have no kids. LGBT seniors also face poor access to culturally sensitive health care and greater rates of poverty. Thankfully, Adams sees the SAGE Center as a national model.
“If we can innovate in New York to better engage LGBT older people, others around the country will be inspired to do the same in their communities,” he says.