Boomer In The City: Beginning the March to End Age Discrimination


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Originally posted on The Huffington Post:
Thursday, September 16, 2010 | by Barbara Rose Brooker

“I’m 73 and I want to be a movie star,” I tell a director at an audition.
“Sweetie, try something easier.”

Don’t you hate the way as soon as you’re past 50, you’re called sweetie and treated like a throw-a-way? As if all your dreams are supposed to disintegrate like bubbles in the wind? As if all you’re supposed to want to do is play bingo and take an AARP cruise to Alaska. As if love in the Viagra generation is only for puppies. I’ve had it with the age thing. After I had a dream that men and women in every city in the world would march for age pride, wearing their age on stickers on their T-shirts, I planned the first age march in history — a march to celebrate your real age and to end age discrimination. AgeSong sponsored it, and I got a committee together. Dreams at any age can come true. Total risk creates great adventures.

It’s Aug. 8th, the morning of the first ever age march, and a dark, wet fog has covered San Francisco in pink mist. A native, I love this fog and the nip in the air, but I’m worried that the 100 or so people who pre-registered won’t show up. I arrive at Crissy Field at 8 a.m., and already there are people in line to purchase their age march T-shirts. Shortly thereafter, people from the Jewish Home and several JCCs in the Bay Area start arriving. Some are wearing great hats, others carrying signs and pompons. Many have their dogs with them. A sticker comes with every age march T-shirt, and many write their real age on the stickers and then affix them to their T-shirts. Even the dogs wear stickers with their ages. So sweet. Some of the dogs even wear T- shirts. We begin to run out of T-shirts as people from other JCCs, from the gay community, people of all ages, continue to arrive. Silvia Cicardini plays her saxophone, and suddenly people are dancing. People are celebrating their real age. Real faces of age — not the faces we’re supposed to have. They carry signs saying: “I’m not a Senior, I’m a Person” and “I’m young and tired of
ageism!” and “I’m 90 and still tap dancing!”

A 96-year-old woman is interviewed by the local NBC TV affiliate. She is beautiful. She is happy.

“Let’s celebrate,” she tells the reporter.
“Age is only an allusion. It’s a spirit.”
Lillian Abramson, 88, says she read about the event in j. Ellen Bloom, 96, wears a sticker with her age printed on it.  “I’m dancing still,” she says with a laugh.
“Let’s have an age march in Israel,” says her friend, Ida.

The music is rising. People are lining up to march. Men and women of all ages. Some are wearing colored beads. My family joins me and AgeSong CEO Dr. Nader Shabahangi and his wife to hold the 10-foot yellow banner with “AGE MARCH-
SF” printed in bright, red letters. We begin the one-mile walk. We chant, “Celebrate your age. Don’t lie about it.” “We’re hotties, too!” We walk briskly. The fog is lifting and the sun expands along the sky, stretching a golden light. The Golden Gate Bridge shines like a glass orange necklace. A woman walks using her walker. One woman roller skates.

“This is the beginning of a dream,” I say to my daughter Bonny and her husband, Gary.
“People are hungry for this,” he says.

No matter what age, people don’t want to live in an age-restricted society. Down with labels like “elders,” “age-appropriate” and “seniors.” Who’s to say what’s appropriate? Everything is appropriate and possible at any age A drummer in the back pounds a drum. Volunteers stand at strategic points of the march, cheering the crowd on and waving gold pompons. We march to the end of the mile. News cameras are taking footage of the first age march in history.

“It’s over,” says someone in the crowd.
“No, it’s beginning. Everything is
possible,” I say.

Want to read more? Get your copy of The Viagra Diaries here!
Barbara Rose Brooker of San Francisco is working on a sequel to her first book,“The Viagra Diaries,” which has been optioned by HBO. She also teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at SFSU.

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