Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Rainbow Seniors

Did Judy Garland steer us wrong?

St Patricks Day 1

The pot o’ gold isn’t OVER the rainbow.

It’s at the END!

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day anyway. Old-school.

at the

Rainbow Seniors Potluck

Tuesday, March 21 at noon

First Congregational Church of Williamstown

Corner of Route 2 and Chapin Hall Road

shamrock  Rainbow Seniors will supply a hunk of corned beef.

shamrock Maybe others will contribute corned beef too?

 shamrock Maybe people will bring cabbage or boiled potatoes?

shamrock  Or just dump some green food coloring into your tuna casserole.

Whatever we eat will bring us the Luck o’ the Irish

. . . because we will all be together.   

AARP says: “older gays and lesbians will face unique challenges as they age.”

gay-marriage
LGBT Advocate looks at the future for Rainbow Seniors

 
Michael Adams is executive director of SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization working to improve life for LGBT older adults.
 

America’s older population is growing, and so is the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults who are moving into their later years. In the next several decades, LGBT adults age 65 and above is expected to double, reaching more than 3 million by 2030.

Older gays and lesbians are half as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have family to lean on for elder care.

 

In my job as executive director of SAGE (that’s for Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders), I’m constantly hearing about the unique challenges facing our community. These are the five main things we need to change if we want our society to be prepared for the full diversity of its aging population.

There are five main areas covered in this story:

1. Basic Health Care 

2. Caregiving Issues

3. Financial Insecurity

4. Social Isolation

5. Access to Aging Services

 

More proof that groups like ours are needed

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The Williams Institute Releases New Report on LGBT Older Adults Highlighting Isolation, Discrimination, and Health Disparities  
Report is basis for recommendations that federal agency target resources to LGBT seniors

In LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications, Soon Kyu Choi and Ilan H. Meyer provide a review of what is known about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) older adults.

Some key findings include:

  • Researchers estimate that there are over 2.4 million LGBT older adults over age 50 in the U.S., with the expectation that this number will double by 2030
  • Older lesbians, bisexual, and gay men have higher prevalences of mental health problems, disability, and disease and physical limitations than older heterosexual people
  • Transgender older adults are also at higher risk for poor physical health, disability, and depressive symptoms compared to cisgender adults
  • LGBT older adults are also resilient and find support through chosen families and informal support networks such as LGBT community organizations and religious networks
  • LGBT older adults need to be recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a “greatest social need” group, opening up important funding avenues to prioritize services for this group
  • Anti-discrimination legislation and expanding the definition of family to include families of choice are policies that should be taken into consideration
  • LGBT older adults are a growing population likely in need of more frequent health care and social support. Culturally sensitive training for service providers could be critical in alleviating expectations of and experiences of discrimination that many LGBT older adults fear when seeking help

In addition, the LGBT Aging report was the basis for the submission of recommendations by several Williams Institute scholars to the Administration for Community Living (ACL).  ACL is considering new guidelines for the targeting of resources to older Americans who have the greatest social and economic need.

The Williams Institute’s submission to the ACL highlighted research on the ways in which discrimination and stigma related to sexual orientation and gender identity can limit the degree to which older LGBT adults experience full inclusion in society and are able to access available services and supports.

Megan Whilden talks OLLI, LGBTQ issues, and the Berkshires

Megan Whilden
Megan Whilden

Tuesday August 16, Noon to 2pm
First Congressional Church of Williamstown
(It’s also a potluck so bring something to share.)

When Megan Whilden was the  Cultural Director for the city of Pittsfield, she did way more than just keep folks entertained. She brought communities together over important issues of the day — and always made sure that all communities were included. She always involved the LGBT community in everything she did, and she still does. For example, she created Out in the Berkshires, a weekend of queer culture and entertainment, and she still moderates the Facebook page Out in the Berkshires.

Now Megan is the Executive Director of OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College, where the range of topics for the courses is as varied as the minds of the seniors who attend. She never forgets that diversity is the key to the strength of our communities.

Always a witty and engaging speaker, she will talk about her hopes for the community we share and OLLI’s role in it. OLLI provides educational, social and volunteer opportunities designed especially by and for people fifty years old and better in the greater Berkshires.

See POSTER BOY While It’s Still in Williamstown

I wouldn’t recommend you buy tickets to a show just because it had LGBTQ content. But I have no problem urging you to see Poster Boy, which runs through Sunday, August 7 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It is a stirring, nuanced, complex theatre piece – with great music and uniquely defined characters — that searches for explanations for a tragedy, finds no simple answers, but leaves you with a lot of new information to think about as you wonder what the full story was and what it means to your own life.

The musical play is based on the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010 after his roommate secretly videoed him having a sexual encounter with another man in their dorm room. The roommate watched the video live with friends from another room.

Like most people, I believed that Tyler was a deeply closeted kid who killed himself because he was outed. Everyone I know thought that was the story, too. But as the play tells us, that wasn’t his story at all.

The tale is told through the eyes of members of an online gay chat room that Tyler had visited often since he was a young teenager. Discovering that the nice kid they knew as “cit2mo” was the same young man whose suicide everyone had read about in the papers, they knew from their interaction with him that the simple explanation – the outing of a closet case – wasn’t it at all. They search for a better explanation, and through their search reveal to us and to one another the complexity of who they are as individuals and what finding community through the chat room provided them with.

I don’t want to tell you more about the story. I hope you will find it out by seeing the show. I will tell you that the performances are wonderful, with deftly revealed characterization, terrific singing voices, and the level of complexity you find in real life. The set does nothing more than re-create the feel of a dorm room, which is exactly what it should do, while also being able to capture the feel of people conversing with one another in cyberspace. I haven’t seen lighting play such a prominent and powerful role since Berkshire Theatre Group’s “Tommy” oh so many years ago now.

If you have the time – and can afford the $63 for the ticket – I hope you will go and that you’ll be moved by the show as much as my husband, Howard, and I were. There are still some tickets available. You can get them online at wtfestival.org or through the box office at 413-597-3400.

Incidentally, after connecting with WTF when 14 Rainbow Seniors attended their amazing community production “Orpheus in the Berkshires,” the theatre was kind enough to invite me to join the Poster Boy’s creators in a Lawn Talk before the Sunday show, where I had the chance to tell audience members about the reason we have Rainbow Seniors and how to find us.

The pictures shown here are from a rehearsal (photo credit: Daniel Rader) and from the opening night party, which I deftly crashed.

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Seniors thrill to “Orpheus in the Berkshires,” part of Williamstown Theatre Fest

Getting out and about with Orpheus and his drag queen Sirens
by Ed Sedarbaum

Fourteen members of Rainbow Seniors sat entranced last Sunday as we watched the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s community production of Orpheus in the Berkshires. Added to the thrill of watching a brilliant production of a great musical play was seeing one of our own, Danny Trotter, singing and dancing his heart out in the show along with our personal friends, this writer’s barber, and scads of talented local children.

The word massive usually connotes something solid and unmoving. Yet while this production was massive indeed, it was as light as the breezes and as fluid as a stream, as close to 100 performers drifted in and out and around the huge public space of Greylock Works (the old Cariddi Mill) in North Adams.

The theme of the show was also very local – the heroin epidemic that has been growing here in North County – the product of brainstorming sessions over last winter and spring with community members and organizations.

Obie-winning playwright Lucy Thurber reimagined the Orpheus and Eurydice myth so that the young people of a town much like North Adams are cast into the grip of Hades by taking “ambrosia,” a drug meant for the gods that is deadly to humans. They are rescued by Orpheus (a young woman in this production), who descends into the underworld to win the favor of Hades with her beautiful singing voice, so that he will let her bring the young people back to the arms of their grieving families and friends.

The directing was masterfully helmed by WTF associate artistic director Laura Savia, who always kept the audience’s attention focused on the characters’ movements, even as dozens and dozens of other cast members silently drifted into place for their own massive entrances. The discipline of the performers was amazing to see – especially given how many young children were in the cast. As amazing as everyone’s singing and dancing and acting chops.

The director told us after the show that one bit of business – the Sirens being portrayed by drag queens — actually came from a suggestion made by one of our members when she visited Rainbow Seniors this winter. It’s nice to know we had a hand in the production in addition to Danny’s great singing and dancing. Laura expressed the hope that even more of us will join in on the creation of next year’s production.