SAGE - older LGBT+ support Social Events, Volunteering, and Training

Helping to promote better ageing for members of the older adult LGBTQ+ community.

Sage Men’s Space (Wednesday 2-3:30 pm) is a project managed by MESMAC Leeds helping to support older men in the LGBTQ+ community who are 50+ years old and living anywhere in Yorkshire, though the majority of members are from the Leeds area.  (*Please note that Sage Women’s Space is now a separate self-led group). 

Since its inception six years ago Sage has undertaken advocacy and networking on behalf of the older LGBTQ+ community, organised a variety of events to help combat loneliness and isolation for its members, provided opportunities to give back to the community through volunteering with Sage and for personal growth through focused training opportunities. 

Advocacy 

Sage helps both the members of the LGBTQ+ community and those in the wider society to better understand the broader challenges of growing old in modern Britain as well as highlighting those specific issues that relate to members of the LGBTQ+ communities. These might be issues relating to being LGBTQ+ in a care home or visiting a partner there, the loss of a partner, housing, inheritance or more pressing needs relating to wellbeing such as issues of access to heating, lighting, transport as well as nutrition and health in general. Sage can represent older LGBTQ+ communities with local authorities in relation to broader issues of ageing better, access, developing older-person friendly services and supporting Leeds to be recognised as one of the best places in the UK to grow old.

Networking

Sage strives to work closely with other agencies sharing our support for older adults in LGBTQ+ communities.

We have developed links with Friends of Dorothy including taking part in their 2020 Silver Pride event, the first ever LGBTQ+ older adult themed extravaganza which covered a weekend of events on a wide range of topics and formats.

Sage works with Lippy People, a video story telling charitable trust who supported the making of several powerful video stories of Sage members clustered around the theme of loss. These video stories have become key elements of advocacy for issues surrounding loneliness and isolation in the LGBTQ+ community as well as an opportunity for individuals to come to terms with their loss and in some case as a legacy for members of their family.


Drop in sessions or online calls

Even with the challenges thrown up at us as a result of the Coronavirus, Sage still provides a weekly opportunity to socialise. Before COVID-19 became a part of our lives, Sage drop-in sessions took place on the first Thursday and the third Saturday of every month at the MESMAC main meeting room in Blayds Yard, Leeds between 12.30pm and 4pm. Given the added pressure on everyone during the time of the Coronavirus and the palpable increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation suffered by its members, a weekly zoom call was established on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 2pm. For those members who could not connect because of a lack of equipment or knowledge about how to connect, tablets have been made available with training on how to use them. Any changes in schedule or a change back to face-to-face drop-in meetings will be announced on this website or on Sage’s twitter account and facebook pages (see below for details of these).

Occasional outings

Sage puts together occasional outings to develop a sense of shared experience and to combat isolation and loneliness. These are dependent on funds and issues with access and availability.

Opportunities to learn new skills

Sage firmly believes that old dogs can learn new tricks! Sage has teamed up with The Ministry of Food in the Kirkgate Market in Leeds for courses on how to prepare food from scratch, understand better nutrition and food hygiene and shop cost effectively. These sessions, though smaller in number, are going to be continuing in a socially distanced way even during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Opportunities for sports and wellbeing

Sage is now in negotiation with sports and wellbeing providers for opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to further socialise by taking part in events that combine combating loneliness and isolation with an increase in overall health and wellbeing. Watch this space for further updates.


Sage is run on a day to day basis by two part-time Community Development Workers, Tracy and Keith. This means that there are several opportunities for volunteering with Sage. Responsibilities might cover:

  • Promoting the Sage Project in events or informally through your networks.
  • Helping support or running Sage’s advisory group, helping to steer the direction of the project.
  • Becoming a community speaker or panel member in larger LGBTQ+ events.
  • Or just being a caring person and assisting in supporting the Sage group as a whole.

Sage occasionally runs training sessions or one to one skills enhancement opportunities, such as the use of tablets, joining online group calls, research LGBTQ+ history or other topics. Sage’s cooperation with the Ministry of Food is also included as a training opportunity.


Creative Voices

Creative Voices is an arts project co-created by older adults from the LGBTQ+ plus community in Leeds and Creative artist Minoti Parikh. This project was delivered by Yorkshire MESMAC and kindly funded by the National Lottery funding.

The project's main purpose was to give members of the community, the time and space to explore creative arts as a way of feeling uplifted, empowered and positive in a fun and relaxing space. Over five months the group have been meeting to laugh, be playful and learn different creative forms of expressing themselves while building new friendships. 

At the end of the project, the group put on a final sharing event where members showcased their creativity through a series of short acts. Please see below a small snippet of the work that was shared.

For me and others, [this project] was quite transformative. Fingers crossed for more in the future.

In this world it is not always easy to make yourself visible because being visible carries risks. There are places where it is possible to be more relaxed in our behaviour, where we are with people who we perceive to be accepting, in places where we feel confident that we will not raise intolerance in others. One can never be sure what will cause a person to react, one way or another


One late afternoon we are walking to Leeds station after a meeting with a small group of other lesbians and gay men, having shared stories and laughter & warmth. We walk, she and I, holding hands, smiling fondly at each other and in tune with the world and the busy concourse thronging with people just wanting to get somewhere, get home. Checking our respective train times she comes with me to my platform, her train being later. On the platform we stand, eyes only for eachother. The moment is interrupted by the beep, beep, beep, beep, beep signal that the doors are about to close. Without thinking we lean towards eachother and kiss, and I run on to the train in a cloud of bliss leaving her on the platform. I hear a man’s shout directed at us; panicking: do I jump off the train, I don’t want to abandon her to face some man’s ire and abuse? I look back and she is smiling and beckoning me forward, I’m confused. She is talking to a man and laughing, the man who shouted, he is laughing. I get off, I don’t want to leave her alone with this situation, even if I have no idea what’s happening here. She grabs my hand, her face so full of smiles. I turn to look at him, it’s the guard, and tune into his words, dialling down my adrenalin. Still laughing he says: “You’ve got 5 minutes yet before the train leaves ............” and adds “I didn’t want to spoil your “brief encounter” moment”

By this time it feels like the whole carriage is looking on at this mini drama. And so, standing on the platform, a bit mo re self consciously, we kiss

- Margaret


I was told that this piece should contain no: sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, deadnaming, racism, general intolerance, and horridness. And should be last about 3 minutes. AND BE UPLIFTING!

So, I scrapped my plans for my four-hour, naked performance piece set in a disused Turkish Bath, entitled “All the Serial Killers I’ve Ever Slept With,” in favour of more moaning about my father and my consequent queer development.


A Glass Half Empty?

A glass is raised in a local pub,

The Eastwood Working Men’s Club,

A treat, my dad has paid my sub,

And introduced the drinking.

 

Through the bottom of the glass,

I see my father, working class,

Setting tasks, I’ll never pass.

Even then, I’m sinking

 

Fuelled with drink and disapproving,

Antipathy within him moving,

Our difference is strangely soothing,

Ignore the father’s shilling.

 

Departure from the norm it seems,

Is a threat to all his dreams,

I always play for other teams,

Joining his: unwilling.

 

I feel my glass will never fill,

To swallow up life’s bitter pill,

I climb a never-ending hill,

Climbing on my own.      

 

I need to find another place,

I need to see a friendly face,

A different sort of human race,

To feel that I have grown.

 

The glass is but a quarter full,

I feel a sympathetic pull,

New friends, gay, not dull,

Liquid level rising.

 

I join a cause, make my mark,

March around the local park,

The outlook looking not so dark,

The glass might need resizing.

 

We protest against all the laws,

The ones which write us off as whores,

Aim our fists at Fascists’ jaws,

Liquid slowly swilling.

 

We wear our badges on our coats,

Ignore our beams, bemoan their motes

Read their texts and make our notes,

The glass is slowly filling.

 

We’re feeling blue and only blue,

And can’t conceive another hue,

Another challenge, soon is due,

Because the glass is needy.

 

White’s a colour for a shroud,

We need more colours to feel proud,

A rainbow marks us from the crowd, But still the glass is greedy.

- James


It’s been a long time.
Never thought I’d see the day.
It’s been a long time.
So glad to hear you say.
It’s been a long time.
For me to feel this way.
It’s been a long time.
I love you too please stay.

- Maureen


Some queers are really rough but some roughs are really queer. - Quentin Crisp.


“Perverts!”, cry the οἱ πολλοί

Hope their betters to annoy.

Secretly they want a youth,

Ashamed to own Socratic truth.

Hypocrisy is all their game

Anything to point the blame

Secretly they join our tribe.

Loudly shouting out their jibe.

Lads, Lads, Lads! on weekend benders

Dressed as scallies, young offenders

Secretly suffused with envy

Join in all the chanting frenzy.

Roset tattoo subscribed with “MAM”

Writ large across a meaty ham.

Secretly on inside thigh.

Tiny letters “DICK or DIE”.

- James


Want to know more or to contact us?

Sage offers friendly social and support meetings for LGBT+ persons over 50 meeting at 22-23 Blayds Yards. Mixed Sage (all genders) meets Tuesday 2-3:30 pm, Sage Men (for male-identifying persons) meet Wednesdays 2-3:30pm. These meetings are social drop-ins and sometimes also with a visiting speaker. Members also sometimes organise separate events.  

Email sagemenleeds@gmail.com.

Visit us on twitter at @LGBTSage or on facebook (friend request Sage MESMAC or like our page Sage Project at Age UK Leeds and Yorkshire MESMAC). 

Should you wish to write to us please do at Sage, Yorkshire MESMAC, 22-23 Blayds Yard, Leeds, LS1 4AD. You can also call us via 0113 244 4209.

Yorkshire MESMAC and Sage offer LGBT+ awareness training to organisations that work with older people. Please contact us for further advice.