Updated 06/21/2010 11:35 PM
Gay Pride Week: Advocacy Group For LGBT Seniors To Be Presented At March
As the station’s coverage of Pride Week continues, NY1’s Amanda Farinacci visits with a Staten Island woman who is planning to march in the parade with a group that advocates for LGBT members who are caregivers to their loved ones.
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Roberta Raeburn has been living in her New Dorp house with her dog, Pucci, for nearly 20 years. Her partner, Terry, lived with her for much of that time, until she fell ill and had a stroke that forced her into a nursing home.
It wasn't until Roberta took a vacation after Terry moved into the home that she realized the toll her partner's illness had taken on her. Recommended by a friend, Roberta turned to Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).
“I didn't even know I was a caregiver until I went to SAGE,” Raeburn said. “I was just doing what I had to do every day. I didn't categorize myself. I didn't think I was part of a larger group.”
But a caregiver she is. Raeburn’s mother also lived with her for a short time until she, too, became ill and was placed in a nursing home.
With the help of SAGE, Raeburn learned how to fight for and secure the best medical care for her partner and her mother, and also how to take care of herself at the same time.
SAGE is the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of elders in the LGBT community. It helped Raeburn find an attorney who could assist her in gaining power of attorney to ensure she was the sole decision maker in Terry's treatment plans. It also taught her to think of herself.
“SAGE has reminded me, ‘what about you what about you?’ I'm 57 and I feel like 37. I'm not gonna get old,’” Raeburn said. “That's not true.”
Raeburn will march with SAGE at this year's Pride March as the group tries to raise awareness for the growing population of elderly LGBT members in the New York City area, and provide inspiration for the growing youth population in the LGBT community, who, too, will someday get old.
“The kids love the SAGE people. I don't know why. It's probably because we paved the road for them,” said Raeburn. “Life is, their gay life is going to be much easier now because of what we did.”
To coincide with this year's pride parade, SAGE has launched a seven-week ad campaign designed to connect LGBT members in need of care giving support and remind them they're not alone. The ads can be seen on subways and at bus stops.
While Raeburn doesn't attend SAGE meetings every week anymore, she makes sure to get to at least one per month, so she can continue to give and receive support
For more information about SAGE, visit www.sageusa.org.