Andy Cramer (he/him) is truly someone who’s left a mark on the world. A lifelong entrepreneur, Andy helped create and run a supplement company to assist those living with HIV. He was one of the first people to recognize the growing influence the web would have in people’s lives and later oversaw the merger of Gay.com and Gay.net. Andy even operated a chain of highly popular lifestyle stores called Headlines, which offered LGBTQ+ friendly merchandise at multiple locations in The Castro.
Andy’s also has been a dedicated StartOut supporter from the very beginning and even built the first version of our online portal in 2016.
And as a serial entrepreneur, Andy’s in full swing once again.
Today his mission is uniting the world’s caregivers through a single, wholly-inclusive platform called ExtendaTouch. ExtendaTouch offers a space for people to come together and provide support on a wide array of caregiving topics. Unlike traditional medical research sites, ExtendaTouch is a community where real people can have real conversations about the health and social concerns they’re facing. Whether it be a sensitive topic like Alzheimer’s care or a question about a cultural competency issue, ExtendaTouch is the place to share information, lessons learned and support from other caregivers.
ExtendaTouch also provides users with hundreds of resources based on your needs and location. By opting in, you’ll connect with the resources you never knew existed.
“Our goal is to become the AAA of caregiving,” Andy said. “You might need it once, you might need it continuously, but the option is always going to be there for you.”
To Andy, caregiving has been a lifelong service. He’s cared for a grandmother, a father, and a sister who all received cancer diagnoses. His mother – diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – went from living independently to assisted-living care and then eventually memory care. Through all of this, he wondered how others in similar situations were being supported.
After attending an Alzheimer’s support group with six people (in a million-plus metro population), he knew that people weren’t getting the help they needed. From this, ExtendaTouch was born.
As a proud gay man, Andy and his partner of 24 years Al Farmer, co-founded ExtendaTouch with the idea in mind to leverage the unique spirit of the LGBTQ+ community. Living in San Francisco since the 70s, Andy saw firsthand how the AIDS epidemic ravaged his community and tested the will of an entire population.
Today in a world still recovering from COVID-19, Andy believes the similarities of then and now are all too familiar. COVID, like the AIDS epidemic, stripped people down and forced us to seek help on our own. The world saw an increased emphasis on individuals taking care of their health concerns and reaching out when they didn’t have the answer. Now, in a time when people are desperate for personal connection, ExtendaTouch is the caregiver’s solution.
Today more than ever, caregivers are overwhelmed – whether they’re caring for a family member in hospice or helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s. But with ExtendaTouch, caregivers have a resource they can depend upon when their time is limited and their needs are great.
ExtendaTouch offers an optionally anonymous experience where users can still connect with others while remaining confidential. They can virtually meet people who’ve gone through – or are going through – what they’re facing. They can ask questions, give or receive support, and connect within the platform to over 10,000 local and national resources.
As we continue to see a growing population of those above 65, caregiving is going to be essential to providing comfort for the older generations. For the aging LGBTQ+ community, there’s a vital need for a unique support system that will ensure their final years are lived out and proud.
And for Andy – like so many of our founders – the challenge is personal.
“For so long, we [as LGBTQ+ people] have had to fight to defend ourselves,” Andy said. “And we still do, but all of that made us understand what a community really is. And we’ve gone through great lengths to care of each other when no one else would. I hope that one day we’ll be able to share that sense of caregiving and community with the rest of the world. We won’t have to keep defending ourselves, but rather, we’ll be there for the general population just like we’ve always been.”
We at StartOut are excited to continue supporting Andy’s entrepreneurial journey, and we wish him nothing but success in his mission to unite caregivers all across the world.