Host Spotlight: SAGE Metro Portland

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SAGE Metro Portland works to enhance the lives of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members through education, outreach, and resource development. This particular branch is a program of Friendly House, a nonprofit community center and social service agency in Portland, Oregon, and an affiliate of the national advocacy organization SAGE USA.

Here, Rebecca Blair has been working as the SAGE Program Assistant since February 2019, taking their programming for LGBTQ+ older adults online during the pandemic to continue fostering relationships and staving off isolation loneliness in the community. In this interview for Kinema, Rebecca shares her passion for SAGE, and what makes the program and its members so special:

How did you discover Kinema, and what has been the most impactful part of hosting screenings?

  • I was looking for ways to watch films with our participants without a downgrade in quality (trying to share/watch via Zoom) or having folks go through a complicated process to sign up or buy tickets. I also wanted to utilize a website that made the whole process easier for me as moderator and tech support! While it would be great to take over a local theatre together, it just isn't possible for our participants with a lack of reliable transportation or mobility issues. Using Kinema has allowed us to open up our programming to so many folks. Offering virtual events has broadened who we are able to reach and serve.
  • [As for] most impactful? Just sharing great films with our participants. Being able to watch these together has given us something to talk about in the chat as well as in our weekly virtual socials.

Could you summarize your favorite screening event you hosted, and why it was your favorite?

  • The first was 'The Ice King', whose subject I had never heard of! We were all just shocked at how little we knew of such an impactful artist and human.
  • Second was 'Gay USA'! People were so engaged in the chat, but I had so many people share their Pride stories after the screening. But there was one person who shared that they never go to large events out of fear and watching this together was essentially their first Pride experience and they were so happy to have that opportunity. Wow!
  • I'd also love to put in a shoutout for 'Dykes, Camera, Action!' What a phenomenal film. We had a great turnout that sparked conversation -- we even found out we knew someone who worked with two of the filmmakers featured!

With COVID, mounting political attacks on human rights, and an all-around air of despair enveloping the country, could you speak about why community is so vital, especially in regards to SAGE Metro Portland and its work with elderly LGBTQ+ folks?

  • That's a big question! For our LGBTQ+ older adults, there has always been something looming on the horizon. Whether it be war, targeted legislation, plague, they've been through it all. Obviously, COVID-19 wasn't an easy time for our participants, but I think we all got a little more creative and a little more vocal about our needs surrounding isolation and being a part of something bigger than ourselves. And being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is so very important that it's worth fighting for on every level, from marching for human rights to tackling your own fear of technology.

Aside from film screenings, what are your other favorite activities/events that SAGE hosts?

  • Our large events like our Winter Party with musicians and dancing are always great, but we have a few excellent local facilitators who host great writing classes and history presentations; however, I will always have a soft spot for our weekly socials. It's amazing how providing a simple space to talk and gather (virtual or in-person!) can make a world of difference in your mood.

To learn more about SAGE Metro Portland, click here for their official site. Interested in curating your own monthly screening series? Schedule a call with us here!

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