Ed Sedarbaum, Rainbow Seniors honored by Berkshire Magazine

Ed Sedarbaum is recognized for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.
Ed Sedarbaum is recognized for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.

When Berkshire Magazine decided to honor the 25 people who are “The Most Dedicated, Most Creative, Most Influential of the Berkshires” in 2016 (their third year of recognizing the areas movers and shakers) they included our own Ed Sedarbaum. He has spent the past year bringing LGBT seniors together after decades of being virtually invisible, and Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County continues to grow with regular meetings in Williamstown and Pittsfield.

At a ceremony attended by about 250 guests at Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Berkshire Magazine honored the wide range of people who make us unique, and their work that improves and enhances our homes, lives, lands, schools, healthcare, business, fine arts, security, and more.

Says Ed: “It’s gratifying to see how warmly the LGBT community of elders has been welcomed and supported in an area as rural as ours. The isolation that was once a fact of life is being replaced by monthly meetings and special events, often with our extended family of friends and allies.”

In making the award, Berkshire Magazine said: “Ed Sedarbaum of Williamstown is known for his tireless work promoting LGBTQ Senior awareness. He runs the Berkshires Rainbow Seniors, which is dedicated to creating safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ senior community. In addition, he made a big splash this year when he spoke at Pittsfield’s Park Square at the vigil for the 49 victims gunned down in Orlando. Community members would agree that Sedarbaum’s passion and determination has had a positive impact on area residents.”

To read about the awards, and the other 24 recipients, visit Berkshire Magazine’s blogspot, townvibe.com

A perfect day for a picnic

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To all those who helped plan and run the Rainbow Seniors picnic at the ski lodge in the Pittsfield State Forest, our thanks. The day was sunny, temperate and delightfully breezy, the food exceptional and the company both delightful and entertaining. A good time was had by all. It’s our hope that these photos will keep those memories alive forever. Thanks to Alan Kousan for sharing his photos with us.

Rainbow Seniors Potluck Celebrates its First Birthday September 20 in Williamstown

A yummy first anniversary is being prepared.
A yummy first anniversary is being prepared.

You know it is going to be a fab-u-lous meeting when we gather at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown for our First Anniversary Potluck, at noon, September 20, 2016. Bring your own hot or cold dish and join us as we remember when we all met each other for the first time.

Here’s a historic video from an early gathering at the home of Carlos and Alan:

Third Tuesdays are the regular day to join us in Williamstown for a potluck lunch. They take place at the First Congregational Church on Route 2, right in the center of town. It’s the big white church on the hill, the address is 906 Main Street, and you enter from the side, on Chapin Hill Road. There is a parking lot right behind the church. (Pick up the parking permit from the church office). You will enjoy the friendly group which gathers there monthly.

In Pittsfield, the gatherings are on the first Saturday each month at the Berkshire Athenaeum Conference Room from 2-4pm and there in parking available.

For more information – or answers to any questions or concerns – give a call to Ed Sedarbaum, our organizer and founder, at 413-441-6006 or send him an email at rainbowseniorsbc@gmail.com

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Well attended Candidates Forum answers many questions

Holding a candidate’s forum on a holiday weekend afternoon seemed counter-intuitive. Even with the bright sun shining, more than fifty folks from the Berkshire Rainbow Seniors and Age Friendly Berkshires spent Saturday afternoon at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield where all the candidates for contested seats showed up and answered questions related to topics and issues of concern to the diverse groups. The primary election takes place this Thursday, September 8, 2016.

Above are some of the photos snapped by Stephanie Zollshan of The Berkshire Eagle.

Rainbow Seniors Barbeque and Picnic Sunday September 11 in Pittsfield State Forest

Organized for us by the resourceful Abraham Castillo, the location of our post-Labor Day picnic is the all-weather Ski Lodge located in the Pittsfield State Forest. Here’s a chance for LGBTQ members to rest, relax and share memories of the busy summer which is rapidly drawing to a close.

It’s an outdoor potluck, so bring something for yourself and to share with others. Hot dogs and burgers are traditional of course, but so are Tofu burgers and perhaps some marinated chicken legs. Don’t forget the pickles, ketchup   and napkins.

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Rainbow Seniors attend “Tribes” at Barrington Stage Company, meet deaf, gay actor Joshua Castille

Joshua Castille
Joshua Castille

The play Tribes at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield tells the story of a young man growing up deaf in a hearing family. The parallels to growing up gay, lesbian or trans in a straight household are astonishing. When tickets became available to Rainbow Seniors, almost two dozen of us made our way to not only see the play, but then stayed for the talkback immediately following in which the actors shared their experiences in coming to grips with the ground breaking show that has spoken, signed and captioned elements.

The lead actor, Joshua Castille, who is both deaf and gay capped that evening’s performance and talkback by sitting down with Berkshire on Stage to talk about both deaf and gay issues. You can read his candid and sometimes eye-opening comments in this interview.

Be technicolor in a monochromatic moment” – Joshua Castille

Josh Castille is an actor, known for his film and tv work in Passengers (2015), Sign (2016) and Switched at Birth (2011). He recently completed a run on Broadway in Deaf West’s signed/sung version of Spring Awakening in which he played Ernst, the gay character.

Meet the Candidates – all of them – at Sept. 3 Rainbow Seniors Pittsfield meeting

All votes count.
All votes count.

Members of the Rainbow Seniors began talking about the upcoming elections months ago, and has joined with the Age Friendly Berkshires Task Force to present a Meet the Candidates program that will include all the candidates (Republican, Democratic and Independent) who are running for contested  offices this year from the Berkshires region. 

Open to all, and slated for Saturday, September 3 from 2:00-4:00 pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum Auditorium, we will hear from all seven candidates for two contested elections: State Senator and State Representative for the Pittsfield area.

The primary takes place just five days later, on Thursday September 8, 2016.

The candidates have not only accepted the invitation of the collaborating senior citizen organizations, but are aware they will be answering questions of special interest to the LGBTQ community – of all ages – as well as those that concern the elders and all Berkshire voters.

Meet the Senate Candidates: (l to r) Rinaldo Del Gallo, Andrea Harrington, Adam Hinds, Christine Canning.
Meet the Senate Candidates: (l to r) Rinaldo Del Gallo, Andrea Harrington, Adam Hinds, Christine Canning.

The candidates for State Senate are Adam Hinds, Andrea Harrington and Rinaldo Del Gallo who are facing off in the Democratic Primary, joined by the Republican candidate, Christine Canning. They are vying to replace Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield.

State Representative candidates: (l to r) Michael Bloomberg, Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Chris Connell.
State Representative candidates: (l to r) Michael Bloomberg, Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Chris Connell.

In the State Representative race, incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier is facing a challenge from Michael Bloomberg in the Democratic Primary, while Chris Connell is running as an independent for that same office in the General Election.

To our knowledge this will be the first time all the candidates have had a chance to focus on both senior and LGBTQ  issues. It will be a rare opportunity to learn their outlook on these important issues. The panel will be moderated by Ed Sedarbaum, founder of the Rainbow Seniors of the Berkshires.

Open to the general public as well as all  Berkshire seniors, light refreshments will be served. RSVP’s are encouraged, if you plan to attend, let Ed know, send an email to  Ed@rainbowseniors.org

 

US Navy to name ship after gay icon Harvey Milk

A young Ensign Harvey Milk served in the U.S. Navy.
A young Ensign Harvey Milk served in the U.S. Navy.

It has been confirmed that theU.S. Navy is set to name a ship after the gay rights icon and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, according to a recent  Congressional notification.

LGBTQ activists have campaigned for the US Navy to honor Milk and other LGBT individuals who have served in the armed forces. This is remarkable news considering gays were officially banned from openly serving in the military until 2011.

Milk served as a diving officer from 1951 to 1955. He was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant junior grade.

“When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was,” said San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored a resolution asking the navy to name a ship after Milk in 2012.

“Now our country is telling the men and women who serve, and the entire world, that we honor and support people for who they are.”

The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.

The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring releasing additional information until the official naming announcement.

Mabus has said the John Lewis-class – named after civil rights activist and congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – would be named after civil rights leaders.

Other names in the class include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s right activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

Milk moved to San Francisco in 1972, where he lived in the Castro district, owned a camera shop, and advocated for the rights of LGBT people in the growing gay neighborhood. In 1977, he won his election to the San Francisco board of supervisors, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California.

One year later, Milk was killed in San Francisco city hall by a former supervisor who also killed the mayor, George Moscone.

“Hope is never silent and will be represented in a world port soon via the USNS Harvey Milk,” read a post on the Facebook page of the Harvey Milk Foundation, reacting to the announcement.

Berkshire Rainbow Seniors enjoy being special guests at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival

Members of BalletX in "Sunset, o639 Hours"; photo Christopher Duggan.
Members of BalletX in “Sunset, o639 Hours”; photo Christopher Duggan.

 

The Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County traveled to the wilds of Becket to take in the last day of the Out at the Pillow weekend, an annual celebration organized by the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Close to three dozen members took part in the afternoon which began with a tour of the historic campus led by archivist Norton Owen, and was followed by a potluck lunch under a tent in the sun-dappled nearby woods.

Highlight of the day was the performance of Sunset, o639 by Philadelphia’s BalletX Company. There was some concern as to whether ballet would work as entertainment for everyone in the diverse group, but the verdict was a unanimous “yes!” as the company of energetic dancers just blew us away with their imaginative story of how air mail service began in the 1930’s. Member Larry Murray reviews the performance on his website: Berkshire on Stage.

With a major picnic in the works for September, and the arrival of the new gay musical Poster Boy at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in August, (Ed Sedarbaum is speaking at the Poster Boy Lawn Talk on August 31!)  there is no shortage of things to do and fun to be had in the Berkshires.

Rainbow Seniors Topic: Domestic and Sexual Violence in Berkshire Country

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Elder abuse happens in the LGBTQ community, too. What you need to know is the topic of the next Rainbow Seniors Pittsfield meeting.

Coming up in August

Saturday, August 6, 2 pm – 4 pm at the
Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield
It’s only a myth that the LGBTQ community is immune to domestic violence and sexual assault . Becca Bradford of the Elizabeth Freeman Center will introduce us to the reality and to the services offered to LGBTQ victims through her program.
About MOVA and the LGBTQ Community

The Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) awarded Elizabeth Freeman Center of Berkshire County a grant to establish the LGBTQ Access Project to increase outreach and services for LGBTQ victims of domestic and sexual violence in Berkshire County.

The program provides culturally informed services for LGBTQ victims, including counselling, support groups, advocacy, and referrals to other area providers. The program works closely with regional LGBTQ organizations and activists like Rainbow Seniors, the Berkshire Stonewall Coalition, Team Rainbow, and the Live Out Loud Youth Project to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence in the LGBTQ community and ensure victims have access to hope, help, and healing through Elizabeth Freeman Center.  All services are confidential, free-of-charge, and available at the Center’s North Adams, Pittsfield, or Great Barrington locations.

“Domestic and sexual violence can impact anyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or socio-economic status”, said Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director. “Unfortunately, prejudices that many LGBTQ individuals face, particularly in isolated and rural communities, make it difficult for them to access needed services. We are thrilled to support the LGBTQ Access Project, which will improve access to critically needed services for this underserved population.”

“We are so excited that MOVA is helping to fund this important work,” said Janis Broderick, Executive Director of Elizabeth Freeman Center.  “Too often, LGBTQ survivors of domestic or sexual violence cannot get the help they need.  This funding gives us the opportunity to reach and serve more LGBTQ survivors, to create a word-of-mouth network of safety in the region, and to expand the prevailing narratives about abuse to include more LGBTQ people’s experiences.”

To learn more about the LGBTQ Access Project, as well as other programming provided by the Elizabeth Freeman Center, visit www.elizabethfreemancenter.org/rainbow or call (413) 499-2425.

The mission of Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County is to improve the quality of life of people in the Berkshire area by organizing, supporting, and empowering the LGBTGQ community.