Five years ago, Pat Baldwin walked into the office of the executive director at the Hannan Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the dignity of elders in the state of Michigan, and spoke with the foundation’s director about an issue close to her heart — LGBTQ elders. Pat had seen an increase in troubling situations where LGBTQ people faced rampant discrimination or, more often, experienced almost complete invisibility. Pat has been an advocate for LGBTQ people for many years, most prominently as a board member of SAGE (Metro-Detroit), the nation’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ elders.
“In the Detroit area, I knew that in senior centers and places where seniors go for programming, there wasn’t really any mention at all of LGBTQ elders. I wanted to change that. I wanted to concentrate on being inclusive to the elders in the LGBTQ community. The bottom line is that people from the LGBTQ community should be able to be their authentic selves,” Pat said. “You have to just stay true to what you know.”