Coming out and its impact on the sports industry was a career-defining moment, said Jason Collins, retired NBA Player and the first openly gay man to play in the NBA, at an event on Tuesday.

The AARP event, hosted in collaboration with SAGE and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, brought together members of the LGBT community, along with community organizations and local stakeholders, to discuss cross-cultural competence and challenges the LGBT community often faces.

Attendees spoke out about the importance of cultural sensitivity and diversity inclusion during the roundtable discussion moderated by Terri Clark, SAGECare Trainer.

“Although members of the LGBT community have many things in common, we also have aspects of our identities that join us to other cultures and communities,” stated Terri Clark, SAGECare Trainer. “Folks attended because they want to connect and learn about the diversity within our LGBT communities and believe they are strengthened by the diversity of the communities in which we live, work and play.”

Amber Hikes, Executive Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, stressed the importance of inclusion when decision-makers put forth policies.

“The City of Philadelphia is here to help our diverse population,” Hikes said. “It is our mission to do it, and to let Philadelphians know what resources are available. I’m proud to represent the City of Philadelphia as we work to support and advocate for the LGBT community.”

Hikes, who recently attended a discussion about caregiving for older adults in the LGBT community, highlighted the importance of taking a multi-generational approach to addressing issues such as health care access, discrimination and access to resources.

By the year 2030, the LGBT community age 65+ is expected to almost double, from 2.5 million to as many as 4.7 million.

“It is critical we address these issues to support the 50+ LGBT community,” states Angela Foreshaw-Rouse, AARP Pennsylvania Manager of State Operations and Outreach. “That’s why we’re working closely with the City of Philadelphia and SAGE.” AARP Pennsylvania has been working on the issues of housing discrimination, diversity inclusion, and caregiving, to advocate for and support the 50+ community in Philadelphia.

During the forum the keynote speakers, which included Collins, Hikes, and Clark, discussed the greatest challenges they face in raising cultural awareness and sensitivity beyond the LGBT community.

“When we lack cultural awareness and diversity inclusion, we experience isolation and feel disconnected,” said Ed Miller, Senior Programs Coordinator at William Way Center. “It’s so important that we work together to support each other, within the LGBT community and beyond.”

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