On the evening of May 18th The Radical Age Movement (RAM) hosted a SAGE Table at Alice & Jon Fisher’s home in Jackson Heights, Queens. SAGE Table is a national event sponsored by SAGE and AARP where hosts invite multigenerational LGBTQ guests and their allies to break bread together over discussions about how to bring the generations closer together as we age. This program took place across the country last evening, May 18th.
You can visit http://www.sagetable.org/stars-come-sage-table/ to see a short video featuring famous people talking about SAGE Table.
RAM’s SAGE Table was attended by 15 people, ages 24 to 72, from all over the city; Jackson Heights, Astoria, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. We were gay, straight, white, Hispanic, and African American. It was a pot luck dinner, and the food was delicious.
The atmosphere felt very comfortable and safe —and we had no problem sharing our feelings about our own cohorts as well as those who were either younger or older.
The conversation was about aging in our communities. Ageism, which permeates our society, is a particularly salient issue for the LGBTQ community when it comes to the generations interacting together and specifically when the elderly need assistance from younger members of the community. The same situation exists in all populations; however, as we learned last evening, the LGBTQ community is less likely to have children while those who are elderly today are more likely to have been isolated and estranged from their birth families. Families of choice are great, but when everybody in that family tends to be the same age, who takes care of who? It doesn’t really work.
Many of the younger participants were surprised to find that those of us in our 60’s and 70’s are concerned about how our lives will end. The youngest among us expressed the tendency to live in the moment and not really give much thought to “getting old.” A number of us who work in the field of aging were able to give a good description of what it is like to be old and alone and struggling to get through everyday activities.
Some of us were learning about age discrimination for the first time, and many of us had already experienced ageism in our lives. A lively discussion arose around the issue of workforce age discrimination.
The last discussion of the evening (before we broke for outrageous desserts) was about the future of intergenerational relations. The final question, asked by Alice, was “What needs to change within our communities so that we can all thrive as we get older?” The answer was unanimous; to have more get-togethers and conversations like these where different generations allow themselves to really listen to each other. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn!
by Alice Fisher for The Radical Age Movement, May 19, 2017