National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to acquaint you with a new resource for gay and lesbian aging that I am personally very excited about.  According to their website: “The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is the country’s first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Established in 2010 through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides training, technical assistance and educational resources to aging providers, LGBT organizations and LGBT older adults.

It is truly remarkable that the US government is funding a program geared to improving the services and supports of the LGBT aging community.  I have worked in this field for decades am encouraged by this sign of support for what has historically been an underserved community.

I have been told by the organization leadership that they intend to develop programs for the HIV positive aging community, and I will be submitting an article to appear on their website.  Currently they have articles and resources of interest to the LGBT aging community on their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Gay Marriage in New York State

On June 24th the New York State legislature passed a bill legalizing marriage for same sex couples.  This was a momentous occasion for New Yorkers, of which I am one.  The gay pride parade, held the next day, was the largest attended in its history, and everyone I spoke to agreed that the tone of the day was exuberant throughout.

On the day of the event, my mind took me back to another human rights advance in the City’s history – the passage of New York City’s gay and lesbian rights bill in 1986.  The law protected gay and lesbian New Yorkers from discrimination for the first time in the city’s history.

I was a 19-year-old student at NYU.  Our gay and lesbian student union was very involved in the issue.  I remember we had been at an event the day before and stayed up late that night making posters for people attending the vote.  The next morning, I was assigned to “person” the phone in the office.  When I arrived I found that our officers had spent the night.  So, I made them coffee and sent them on their way.  I got the usual calls during the day – students asking about our programs or wanting to talk to someone about coming out.  And, then I got the call: “We won!”  It was so exciting.  Even though I was in the office, I felt as though I was part of something really big.  And, later that day the New York Times had a photo of the students from the NYU gay and lesbian union on the front cover of the paper.

I remember my parents talking about where they were when Kennedy was shot and what they were doing during other major events of their youth.  For me, the passage of the NYC gay and lesbian rights bill was that event.  I saw, first hand, the power of activism.  My rights, and the rights of people like me mattered.  And, it changed me.  I felt a little prouder.

Yes, the passage of the same sex marriage bill in New York State is an important human rights victory.  LGBT people deserve full equality under the law.  The right to marry is an integral step in the promotion of equal rights for all.

But, it is also something more.  It is a message to LGBT people everywhere that we matter.  That the fight against homophobia in society, and the struggle that many of us must continue against the homophobia internalized within ourselves, is a worthy battle.  Each step we take, whether it is a victory or a set-back, reminds us that we are worth fighting for.

People wished me “Happy Pride” all that week.  And, I feel it.  I am a little bit prouder, now.

POZ Blogger, Scott Daly, Talks About Aging with HIV

In his blog for POZ magazine, Scott Daly reviews his experience of aging with HIV in the third decade of the epidemic.

To read the article go to: POZ magazine.

Housekeeping

I have spent some time cleaning up the blog and have reorganized the archive.  There are new categories listed on the sidebar to the right.  This should help you find the postings that interest you.

Under Construction

I just received notification that WordPress is making changes to the website.  So, I’m going to take a little time to learn the new system, and clean things up a bit on my blog.  You can still access previous posts in the archive and use the tabs above to get referrals and learn more about Aging with HIV: A Gay Man’s Guide.

The Death Sentence That Defined My Life: New York Times

In his Op Ed for the New York Times, “The Death Sentence That Defined My Life,” Mark Trautwein shows us how not dying of AIDS “on schedule” has helped him learn “not to live life on one either.” His story offers insight into the financial, social, and medical challenges of living longer than expected.

My letter to the Editor, published yesterday by the Times discusses the delicate, and sometimes paradoxical, balance between finding your own schedule and getting back on track with life that accompanies aging with HIV.

You can follow the links to read both.

Aging with AIDS: More are living longer, living with loss: MSNBC

Linda Dahlstrom article for MSNBC tells one man’s story of aging with HIV.  It is a touching and personal chronicle of the path so many gay men have had to travel from the trauma of diagnosis, living through innumerable losses, to facing the unanticipated social, emotional, and physical challenges of growing older.

For the full article go to: msnbc.com

30 Years In, We Are Still Learning From AIDS: New York Times

On Memorial Day, the New York Times published an article by Dr. Lawrence Altman remembering the early AIDS epidemic of 30 years ago.  His article poignantly reminds us of those desperate days when there was little scientific knowledge, and a great deal of misinformation, fear, and stigma.  He memorializes those who died in the early years, for whom “the wait for effective treatments — a decade or so after the first reports of the disease — was far too long.”  His report acknowledges how far we have come, yet does not deny the continued gaps in our knowledge and lack of progress made in developing an AIDS vaccine.

For me the timing of the publication of this article resonates strongly.  The AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and early 90’s was a war that needs to be memorialized.  A generation was lost to the disease and those that remain are scarred emotionally by the battle.

While it raises painful memories, Altman’s article offers us an opportunity to remind ourselves of what we have lived through, and to remember the friends that we have lost.  I believe that the ability to reminisce is an integral part of healthy aging.  This kind of life review allows us to learn from the past, not live in it, to draw on past experiences for life lessons and guidance to help us cope with challenges in the present.  I am grateful to Dr. Altman for his work in the field of AIDS and for sharing his experience.

Click here to access the article

This Too Shall Pass

As a kid, I occasionally overheard my mother talking to herself doing chores around the house.  She was a single parent and often came home from a day’s work to an evening of responsibilities.  One phrase I remember her using as she opened bills or couldn’t get a stain out of the carpet was, “This too shall pass.”

I came to understand that she was reassuring herself that whatever challenges she faced, no matter how taxing or mundane, would be resolved.  I didn’t know that she was quoting the Sufi poets who believed that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.

Today, I thought of my mother and the phrase she uttered when overwhelmed.  After several days of rain, I just couldn’t get myself going.  I knew I had chores to do this morning before I went to work, but had no energy to accomplish them.  So, after a great deal of procrastinating, I dragged myself onto my yoga mat and did a few sun salutations.

In the middle of my routine, stretching my body, breathing deeply and regularly, my mood lifted.  And, quite by coincidence, but still remarkable, the sun came out.

In my psychotherapy practice I often counsel people who are afraid of talking about their anger or reliving sad memories.  They fear that they will get mired in those “negative” emotions.  I tell them, that in my experience, feelings come and go.  Sadness, deeply felt, passes, and leaves room for joy.  And, happiness too can’t last forever.  When we try to hold onto any feelings we set ourselves up for disappointment (and sometimes compulsions and addictions.)

But, good advice is sometimes easier to give to others.  So, I’m writing this entry, in the hopes that I can remind myself that no matter what challenges we face (large or small) they will pass and if we remain flexible we will be able to withstand our current experience until the next one arrives.

HAG

Just want to remind people that there is a facebook group dedicated to the issues of HIV and Aging, and its called HAG. If you are on facebook, check it out.

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