Barbara Abrams

By Kirrin Finch
Barbara Abrams

Community Member of SAGE

This past month our team had the pleasure of sitting down with Barbara Abrams, one of the residents at the Brooklyn based Stonewall House run by SAGE. SAGE operates five innovative older adult centers across the city with two located in our LGBTQ+-friendly housing facilities in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

The Kirrin Finch team was there to serve the residents breakfast and to help package the fresh produce the Stonewall house distributes to the local community on a monthly basis. Needless to say, we were blown away by the amazing space SAGE created that not only fostered community within the LGBTQ+ elder community, but also the community at large.

SAGE is a national advocacy and services organization that’s been looking out for LGBTQ+ elders since 1978. These housing developments center around creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals who are in need of safe and affordable housing with an empowering community.

Tell us about who you are...

My name is Barbara Abrams. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida in 1944. I came to New York in 1969, alone, looking to discover who I am as an individual. I did that successfully. I’m very very satisfied with myself.


Who are some of your style muses and why?

Movies from the 1950s, because of the classic style of dress. I learned to appreciate fabric from my mother. Some of the stars that I admired and wanted to look like and be like were Gregory Peck, Lena Horne, Betty Davis, Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, and Dorothy Dandridge. I enjoyed them because they all had a very beautiful sense of style of clothing that was classic and worn and looked the same all the time. Very clean, very stylish. No wrinkles, just beautiful.  

How has your sense of style evolved throughout your lifetime?

I would say I’m pretty much the same. I like classic looking clothing and fabric is very very important to me. When I go through stores, I don’t actually look at the clothing, I feel the fabric. Then I look if the fabric feels right. Again, that was a gift my mother gave me, I will always remember that. I cherish it. 

How did you hear about SAGE and how long have you lived there?

I heard about SAGE when I would go to The Center on 13th Street in Manhattan. I used to go there on weekends. Every weekend. I would just go through the building, find out what’s going on, meet other people, hang out with them, go to dinner, grab snacks. I never drank or smoked…anything, anywhere, at all, ever. To this very day. It’s part of being who I am, Barbara Abrams. I’ve been a member of SAGE for approximately 20 years. And way back before, no one was keeping a record of how many numbers there were. Eventually, there was a time you would check in on 26th Street and sign in with a photograph and that time was documented.

What does being a part of SAGE means to you?

What I get as a benefit of being a member of SAGE is feeling like I’m with family. I feel the support from being with SAGE members. Everything is focused in a manner where people care about you and that is very meaningful to me. So I have a support system that feels like family and I always feel loved and cared about. That’s extremely meaningful and that’s what SAGE does for me.

How do you spark intergenerational conversations?

The way I would do that simply is to ask them their name. And let them try to have a conversation, basically, with me. Give them the mic and be reasonable from there. It has always worked for me.

What advice would you have for your younger self?

Always be conscious of who you’re around and who is around you. How do you share your time? Stay focused. It’s very important to stay focused.

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