|Written by Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, June 25, 2008|
The Fire Island Pines has certainly changed since Charles and Kay Corso first came to the East End hamlet in 1956. The ferry from Sayville cost $1.38, a then 15-year-old Jane Fonda taught dance classes and their home was the eighth dwelling the Home Guardian Company built on the isolated stretch of beach. Kay was quick to note others soon discovered the new hamlet’s many attractions. “Gay people were very bright,” she said. “All of a sudden they developed aunties. The aunties came out. The aunties bought houses. The aunties rented the houses. The aunties went home. The gay people came out.”
Kay Corso related this story as she and her husband accepted the Doris Taussig Award, named in honor of the former Pines real estate agent who cared for people with AIDS at her beachside home during the height of the epidemic in the 1980s, at the 16th annual SAGE [Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders] ceremony and fundraiser at Whyte Hall. A number of Corso children and grandchildren, many of whom have also summered on the beach, joined their parents and grandparents on stage on Saturday, June 14, as emcee Crayton Robey presented them with a crystal engraved trophy.
SAGE also paid homage to Jack Lichtenstein, who turned 85 earlier this week. The Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association declared the day “Jack Lichtenstein Day.”
Long-time Pines residents William Hayden and Ron Perkov were also honored for their decades of advocacy on behalf of a number of local organizations.
“It’s great to be here with all my friends and neighbors,” Hayden told the News before he and his partner accepted their award. “The leaders in giving in the gay community come out of the Pines. The people who are here are givers. This community gives back.”
Perkov agreed. He used his acceptance speech as an opportunity to thank fellow Pines residents for supporting him and Hayden through what Perkov described as the most challenging year of his life. And he specifically thanked Hayden.”We are so lucky to have each other,” Perkov said.
Founded in 1978, SAGE remains the country’s largest organization whose mission remains devoted exclusively to advocacy on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] seniors. It offers a wide array of services and programs that include counseling and case-management, finance, wellness and safer-sex workshops and monthly brunches and get-togethers around New York. SAGE also operates a cart in the Pines that transports seniors around the hamlet.
The event raised more than $35,000. Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, expressed his appreciation to Pines residents for their long-standing support. He stressed, however, his organization will have to double its programmatic work in the next five years to accommodate the ever increasing number of baby boomers over 50.
Adams maintained SAGE is ready to meet this challenge. “We are up to the task,” he said.
SAGE will hold a party in Cherry Grove on Saturday, July 26, at Jack Dowling’s home at 251 Bayview Walk. Call Jeff Solis at (212) 741-2247, ext. 252 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Log onto www.sageusa.org for more information.
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