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