SAGE Launches Citywide Survey of LGBTQ Seniors

Out lesbian New Yorker Lujira Cooper told Gay City News last month that she has endured social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.
Sarah Godoy Brito

Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders (SAGE) and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Center for Home Care Policy and Research are conducting a citywide survey of LGBTQ New Yorkers 55 years and older in an effort to determine the health and social needs of queer seniors across the five boroughs.

The survey, which can be filled out at tinyurl.com/y8zrob26, is being carried out as part of a broader nationwide campaign dubbed the Advantage Initiative, a research cffort that seeks to understand the way older adults perceive and experience their own communities, to pinpoint barriers to aging, and to plan ways to address those barriers.

“In order to best serve our community, we need to hear directly from the voices that look to SAGE as a space where they can continue to form connections and find opportunities to flourish,” SAGE’s executive vice president Lynn Faria said in a written statement. “It is our responsibility as a community to learn about and understand the needs of our LGBTQ elders, so we can provide sufficiently comprehensive services and resources that allow the members of our community to thrive.”

However, the survey, which is anonymous, is — for now, at least — being conducted exclusively online, which could exclude the feedback of significant numbers of seniors who lack internet access or the technological know-how for accessing the online survey. The survey is also only being carried out in English and Spanish, potentially preventing the inclusion of New Yorkers who do not speak those languages.

The results of the survey will be used not only to identify health and social needs, but also to develop a “blueprint” to help shape future SAGE programs and services. The findings could shine a light on issues that have plagued queer seniors during the coronavius crisis. The community has already seen an exacerbation of social isolation, food insecurity, and technological barriers since the coronavirus interrupted daily life in March.

“For many LGBTQ elders in New York City, the COVID-19 pandemic awakens deep-seated fears and memories of negative experiences with access to care that began in the 1980s and ‘90s with the plague of HIV/ AIDS,” Arthur Fitting, the Visiting Nurse LGBTQ program director, said in a written statement. “SAGE and VNSNY developed this survey to reveal and more clearly understand critical concerns that older members of the LGBTQ community are struggling with, not only in the midst of this public health crisis, but every day.”

Those who do participate can enter a drawing for the opportunity to win one of 25 individual $25 gift cards.

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