Everything Old Is New As NYC Opens Nation’s First LGBT Senior Center

It was a week of ribbon-cuttings for New York’s LGBT community last week: Queerty already reported on the grand opening on Thursday of The Out NYC, the city’s first gay-oriented hotel. The same day, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (above, second from right) and other local officials helped open the first senior center in the United States focused on the needs of LGBT elders.

Located in Chelsea, the SAGE Center (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) will provide support groups, fitness classes, cultural outings, counseling and meals, among other services. (It’s not, however an assisted-living facility, and has no accommodations for full-time residents).

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, commissioner for the Department for the Aging, which is co-sponsoring the center with SAGE, said the center will have benefits that extend beyond gay senior citizens:

“LGBT seniors often do not feel comfortable in a traditional senior center setting and this launch of a LGBT senior center is another important step in making New York accessible and more age-friendly for all New Yorkers.”

Robert Philipson, a 77-year-old retired jewelry salesman, told CBS News he said he started going to bereavement counseling at SAGE after the death of his partner of 50 years.

“When you find yourself alone at 77 and you’ve built your life around another person, you are at somewhat of a loss as to where to go next,” he said. “SAGE filled that gap.”Philipson said he and his late partner used to go to a straight senior center nearby and were welcomed there, but that center could not meet all of his needs when his partner died.

“They did not have the orientation to understand my position as a gay mourner,” he said.

Photo via NYC Department for the Aging

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  • constancio victorino

    It’s great that new york city has a senior center for gays, lesbians, transgenders. Older people needs the support and care from people who understand their needs. Great news for our senior brothers ans sisters.

  • Jakey

    Contancio said it all. Great news!

  • Kenia Armstrong

    This is a moment in history. A proud moment for the Senior LGBT Community!!!

  • Kenia Armstrong

    This is a moment in history. A proud moment for the Senior LGBT Community.

  • Hyhybt

    “They did not have the orientation to understand my position as a gay mourner”

    How would mourning the loss of someone after 50 years be different just because that someone was a man? Or was its *not* being different what they couldn’t understand?

  • Christina

    Full disclosure – I work for SAGE. Our constituents (and LGBT older adults all over the country) often face discrimination by centers and organizations that do not have cultural competency trainings in effect. SAGE is working to change that with its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and by putting forward best practices through The SAGE Center. A bunch of recent (and not so recent) reports have found that LGBT older adults face discrimination and social isolation because of their sexual orientation. We’re here to change that.

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