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A group of friends and acquaintances, most of them getting up in years, sit around a long table, drinking coffee, eating cookies and chatting. It could be the scene at any senior center — which is exactly what the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley was going for last month when it opened its gay senior center, one of a growing number of such centers opening across the USA . “We knew there was a need,” said Gay Alliance interim Executive Director Anne Wakeman. As the U.S. population ages, “we’ve got senior programs in every town and this huge shift in our population,” she says. “These services are absolutely necessary.” The White House in May convened in Miami a first-ever conference on aging in the gay community. New York City-based SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults, earlier this year opened the nation’s only full-time gay senior center. And Chicago’s gay social service agency Center on Halstead earlier this year unveiled plans to renovate an old police station in Chicago and create the nation’s first affordable housing complex for older gay adults. The 79-unit complex, the second such housing project in the nation (the first is in Los Angeles) is due for completion by late 2013.