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ShOUT Milwaukee

LGBT Community People and Events

Jan. 16, 2008
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You’renot getting older, you’re getting better. Just ask Bill Serpe, executive director of Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE). One of just 16 groups in the entire country committed to promoting quality of life issues for LGBT seniors, SAGE/Milwaukee is a vibrant organization with nearly 150 members.

“SAGE is an environment free of homophobia, sexism and ageism, where everyone’s confidentiality is assured,” Serpe says. “We hold social events throughout the year, as well as all major holidays. As a SAGE member, you are never alone.”

SAGE/Milwaukee presents social activities and cultural events every month, including movie nights, Thursday afternoon drop-ins and a women-only series.

Events are open to the public. SAGE also collaborates with Project Q, an LGBT youth organization, to offer a Thanksgiving dinner and a summer picnic. “These intergenerational events are a wonderful opportunity for young people to meet established, successful gay men and women,” Serpe says. “It’s important to expose young community members to positive LGBT role models. These connections also strengthen a sense of LGBT history, a sharing of firsthand accounts of the early struggle for gay rights.”

According to Serpe, one of the biggest challenges facing elderly LGBT folk is the entrenched homophobia found in many retirement homes. “A good percentage of older Americans still react negatively toward open displays of same-sex affection, so many gay residents feel they must remained closeted,” he says. “Also, staffs at these facilities are usually not trained in gay or transgender sensitivity, resulting in questionable treatment.”

Still, he adds, there is no denying the improved view society holds toward gays and lesbians compared to a generation ago. “The changes that I have seen in my lifetime are amazing,” Serpe says. “I never thought that gay marriage would be openly discussed, let alone legal in some states, and that LGBT community centers would be found even in the smallest cities. Things are getting better!” To learn more about SAGE/Milwaukee, stop in at the offices located at 1845 N. Farwell Ave., or call 224-0517.

Speaking Out

State Sen. Tim Carpenter is one of 12 openly LGBT appointed or elected officials in Wisconsin. Representing the Third Senate District, Carpenter currently serves as the Senate president pro tempore and chairs the Senate Committee on Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Privacy. He is up for re-election in 2010.

Did you campaign as a “gay” candidate? I’ve never considered myself in the closet. Occasionally some right-wing groups tried to make my orientation an issue, but my constituents like the fact that I’m a hard worker. I have a 100% Senate roll call voting record.

Of what legislation are you most proud? That Wisconsin is the only state in the union protecting SeniorCare for prescription drug assistance.

Your thoughts on the marriage amendment recently passed in Wisconsin? I was surprised that it passed by the margin that it did, but the Republican push also backfired. Many young people voted to defeat the measure and ended up electing a Democratic majority in the Senate and re-elected Gov. Jim Doyle.

Any plans to run for a national office? I’m very happy where I am. Besides, I could never afford it. I am not independently wealthy, and I would refuse to accept specialinterest money.

What do you think of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? This is an antiquated concept. The amount of underreported sexual harassment toward female service members is astounding. In the rank and file, few care about gays in the military, but all are witness to sexual abuse against women.

Who do you admire? Jimmy Carter—not only the humanitarian that he has proven himself to be, but also the compassion he showed as president.

What is something that people don’t know about you? I am a huge Brewers fan; I go to dozens of games every year with my dad. Plus, I have a huge bobble-head collection of over 500.

Who do you favor in November’s presidential race? The three leading Democratic candidates are all very credible. The Republican Party has offered seven dwarfs. It is no contest.

Stepping Out

Gallery Night Reception—Domestic Tensions: Axes of Longing Friday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m. Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, 703 S. Second St. This multimedia exhibition of photography, painting and domestic objects explores the unspoken tensions found within the domestic space. Information at 383-3727 or www.MilwaukeeGayArtsCenter.org.

Community Breakfast Saturday, Jan. 26, 9:30 a.m. LGBT Community Center, 315 W. Court St.

The Visioning Project hosts a breakfast followed by a discussion on intergenerational relationships within the LGBT community. Information at 271-2656.

Shelley Graff with Julie Kronenberger in concert Saturday, Jan. 26, 7 p.m. LGBT Community Center Feminist singer, songwriter and guitarist Shelley Graff performs original upbeat tunes and inspiring ballads. Co-sponsored by Lesbian Alliance and SAGE/Milwaukee.

Information at 271-2656.

Lesbian Alliance Valentine’s Dance Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m.

South Shore Pavilion, 2900 South Shore Drive Celebrate Valentine’s Day at this women-only event. Dance the night away at the biggest lesbian event of the year. Call 272-9442 or visit www.lesbianalliance.org.

The Queer Program Mondays 6:30-7:30 p.m. Channel 96 Milwaukee’s live public cable access call-in television program by, for and about Milwaukee’s queer communities. Information at 265-8500.


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