By Jason A. Michael on December 16, 2022
A longtime LGBTQ+ organization focused on people over 45 held a coming out party last week to announce a new name and direction. Going forward, SAGE Metro Detroit will be known as MiGEN (short for Michigan’s LGBTQ+ Elders Network). The new MiGEN slogan: Authenticity is ageless.
The organization has been working on the big reveal for several months after the national SAGE USA office announced it would be ending its affiliate model and, thus, its oversight over the Detroit chapter.
MiGEN Executive Director Angela Gabridge said in a news release that the agency’s new name and slogan came about following a community survey that received nearly 100 responses.
The responses, Gabridge said, informed and guided the agency’s work in rebranding. “Early on,” she continued, “the committee identified four words to serve as guideposts in this work and what we felt the organization needed to convey and represent: authentic, vibrant, safety and community.”
MiGEN, Detroit’s only nonprofit dedicated to services and advocacy for LGBTQ+ older adults, first joined the national SAGE movement in 2015. The group had been started five years before that, in 2010, as the LGBT Older Adult Coalition at Affirmations by Kat LaTosch, with assistance from Judy Lewis and Jay Kaplan. The group grew quickly and became one of the largest SAGE branches across the country.
“Here at MiGEN, we believe in safe spaces and community, and we intend to be here for LGBTQ+ folks ages 45 and over, as well as for those who care for them,” said Gabridge. “We are also here to ensure that providers and others across the state of Michigan are trained in culturally responsive care so that, no matter where you live in Michigan, you can receive the care and treatment you deserve.”
Moving forward, Gabridge announced that MiGEN will focus on the trans, non-binary and people of color communities.
Kat Mehrer, MiGen program director, said the organization’s ongoing Transgender Aging Project will include social and educational events for trans and nonbinary folks and their allies, as well as other important endeavors like training specialized volunteers to help with gender-affirming insurance denials. “As a nonbinary person myself,” they said, “it is important to me that we are always looking for new ways to engage transgender and nonbinary older adults, and I’m excited for this project to continue to grow.”
Jim Whipple, a longtime activist and founding member of the organization that later became SAGE Metro Detroit, said MiGEN’s focus on this segment of the community is a “paramount need for all LGBTQ persons’ well-being.” MiGEN’s activities, he noted, will benefit everyone, with special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable members of the community.
“Emphasizing solutions for the needs of nonbinary/transgender people will benefit all of us in the end,” he added. Whipple said MiGEN will be able to provide basic human services to a population facing an increased risk of violence.
The agency also plans to expand their social and community programming in 2023.
“We will begin rolling out office hours across several of our partner agency locations, as well as more opportunities for fun and social connection in the form of in-person social and educational outings, health education and vaccination clinics in partnership with Affirmations, the CDC Foundation and others,” Gabridge said.
The goal is to develop and deliver innovative interventions that make lives better.
“We want to hear from you,” she said. “Visit us on Facebook and tell us a little bit about you and your generation.”
“Have fun with it,” Gabridge added, encouraging visitors to not only share their thoughts but to post a photo. “We would love to feature some of you and your thoughts as we roll out this new name and branding and let Michigan know the face of LGBTQ+ aging is vibrant, authentic and fun.”
For more information, visit migenconnect.org.
About the Author: Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael has been with Pride Source since 1999 and is currently senior staff writer. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography “Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story,” released on his own JAM Books imprint.