We’re great at making the most of winter

It’s a given that the LGBT community is full of ideas, and with winter just weeks away, we turn our attention to ways we have learned to not only survive the short days but to have fun doing it.

Our Pittsfield meeting on Saturday, November 5, 2016 will take place as usual from 2-4pm at the Berkshire Atheneum in Pittsfield, in the conference room on the second floor. If you haven’t sat around the big table and shared your thoughts with us, this may be the perfect chance to get to know your LGBT neighbors in the Berkshires.

Some of us are lucky to have a fireplace to gather around, enjoying the indoors and good companionship. Others still get out and go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and even ice fishing. Some busy themselves with homemade holiday gifts and decorations, and others ready ideas for February’s 10×10 Winter Arts Festival in Pittsfield when everyone leaves their shelters to meet on the streets of the Cultural District.

So what do you do? Looking for ideas, or have some to share? Join us for a brainstorming session to make the next few months as much fun as possible.

Berkshire Eagle’s Ed Damon is guest speaker for July’s Williamstown meeting

Edward Damon
Edward Damon

The much anticipated chat with Ed Damon – postponed from May – will take place at our Tuesday July 19 potluck lunch gathering. Ed will talk with us about what he experiences being an openly gay reporter on a rural newspaper. Edward of course covers the whole news beat for the Berkshire Eagle.

Our meeting starts as usual at noon (and ends shortly after 2pm) with the always surprising shared buffet – everyone brings a dish as their contribution – made more delicious with the usual catching up and sociable chatter. Then, some quick announcements and coming attractions before we hear from Mr. Damon. The Williamstown meeting takes place the third Tuesday of every month in the Library of the First Congregational Church on Main Street (Route 2) from 12-2. It’s the church with the big white steeple that dominates the town. Parking in the rear, but be sure to get a permit to display on your dashboard when you arrive.

RSEdDamonA native of Rockland, Edward Damon came to the Berkshires in 2008 as a freshman at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. There, he stumbled into the college’s journalism program and eventually become the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the Beacon. He received a bachelor’s in English from MCLA in May 2012 and joined the North Adams Transcript staff in November 2012 before it ceased publication.

An Eagle reporter since then, Edward covers Northern Berkshire. His interests include the outdoors, obscure cars, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and ‘ 80s New Wave. He has written about the Rainbow Seniors program, helping get the word out.

“As a staff reporter for the Transcript and now the Berkshire Eagle, I’ve covered everything from local courts to car accidents to local schools. My beat has included the towns of Williamstown, Hancock, Clarksburg, Lanesborough, New Ashford, and Stamford, VT”

While at MCLA, Ed served in a number of roles for BGLAD (Bisexuals Gays Lesbians & Allies Making a Difference) including that of Vice President and President.

It promises to be an interesting conversation.

Pittsfield Rainbow Seniors wowed by stories from Bill Finn, dancing with Vic Ziter

Bill Finn at the piano. Photo by Alex Reczkowski.
Bill Finn at the piano. Photo by Alex Reczkowski.

The July Pittsfield gathering of Rainbow Seniors on July 2 at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield was truly a personal “show and tell” event that will be long remembered.

Show – Vic Ziter

The “show” part was led by member Vic Ziter who is a professional ballroom instructor as he introduced a whole bunch of Rainbow Seniors and guests to the simple basics of classic steps. Dancing with each of them, and then with each other, the dance was such fun it went into overtime. I participated for the first part, and then had the pleasure to watch my friends take to the floor, becoming ever more confident as they practiced.

Tell – William Finn

Bill Finn opened the meeting with his own show and tell. Tony winner, Pulitzer Prize nominee and creator of the Broadway shows Falsettos and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Bill Finn is both a Pittsfield resident during the warmer half of the year, and the producing director of the Musical Theatre Lab at Barrington Stage Company.  During the winter he teaches at NYU. This fall his musical, Falsettos, is being revived by the Lincoln Center Theatre.

Finn spoke off-the-record, sharing much of his life on, off and backstage starting with Williams College and leading to the Great White Way. It seemed everyone in attendance had a question to hurl at him, and he swung right back with witty answers and an honesty that was – at times – breathtaking. To top off his act he pulled the cover off the Berkshire Athenaeum’s well-tuned piano and gave us a rendition of his latest ditty, a song written for his rabbi and synagogue in New York City.

A good time was had by all.

 

Let there be levity and justice for all – lesbian comedy and music will benefit LPAC

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An evening to laugh and support each other
Opinion from Curve Magazine and the Rainbow Seniors editor

On June 16th in New York City, Levity & Justice for All will provide a stage for the political humor and sharp wit of an all-star line-up of lesbian comics—at the expense of anti-LGBTQ politicians, including the Republican presidential candidates.

Kate Clinton will host the event, a first-of-its-kind comedy benefit for LPAC, the nation’s only lesbian super PAC.

Headliners include Rosie O’Donnell, Kate Clinton, Billie Jean King, Cameron Esposito, and special musical guest BETTY.

For those of you in the Berkshires who follow such things, you know that many of the headliners are no stranger to our area. BETY and Cameron Esposito have performed at MASS MoCA, Kate Clinton has played the Colonial and other Berkshire venues, and Judy Gold brought her one woman show to the Williamstown Theatre Festival not so very long ago.

But now it’s time for all of us in the LGBTQ community to come together to make our voices heard in the 2016 election. The Lesbian Political Action Committee has endorsed Hillary Clinton. And there is a major evening of lesbian activism in the form of a fundraising laugh fest at Town Hall in New York City. Ladies, get out your wallets, and Gents, do the same!

LPAC Executive Director, Beth Shipp said, “Watching the news and seeing what some candidates like Donald Trump are saying, you’d think that the entire 2016 election cycle is a bad sitcom. The sad truth is that the 2016 cycle is no joke. We face candidates across the country, including those running for president, who have no respect for women or our LGBTQ community. Levity & Justice for All will celebrate the political voices, humor, and activism of LGBTQ women, inspiring and motivating those in attendance to actively participate in the 2016 election.”

Levity & Justice For All will take place during LGBT Pride Month. Funds raised will be used for political education, organizing, and mobilization efforts to support LPAC endorsed candidates.

When: Thursday June 16, 2016, 7:30PM

Where: The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. New York City

Tickets

Berkshire Eagle’s Ed Damon is guest speaker for May Williamstown meeting

Edward Damon
Edward Damon

At our monthly Williamstown meeting is Tuesday May 17, from Noon to 2pm and we will welcome Ed Damon who will talk with us talking about what he experiences being an openly gay reporter on a rural newspaper. Edward of course covers the whole news beat for the Berkshire Eagle.

Our meeting starts as usual with the always surprising noon buffet – everyone brings a dish as their contribution – made more delicious with the usual catching up and sociable chatter. Then, some quick announcements and coming attractions before we hear from Mr.Damon.

RSEdDamonA native of Rockland, Edward Damon came to the Berkshires in 2008 as a freshman at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. There, he stumbled into the college’s journalism program and eventually become the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the Beacon. He received a bachelor’s in English from MCLA in May 2012 and joined the North Adams Transcript staff in November 2012 before it ceased publication.

An Eagle reporter since then, Edward covers Northern Berkshire. His interests include the outdoors, obscure cars, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and ‘ 80s New Wave. He has written about the Rainbow Seniors program, helping get the word out.

“As a staff reporter for the Transcript and now the Berkshire Eagle, I’ve covered everything from local courts to car accidents to local schools. My beat has included the towns of Williamstown, Hancock, Clarksburg, Lanesborough, New Ashford, and Stamford, VT”

While at MCLA, Ed served in a number of roles for BGLAD (Bisexuals Gays Lesbians & Allies Making a Difference) including that of Vice President and President.

It promises to be an interesting conversation.

Rainbow Seniors have a date with the fabulous Taylor Mac – artist, drag queen, entertainer, historian

Yes, finally a gay spectacle in the Berkshires!
Yes, finally a gay spectacle in the Berkshires!

Rainbow Seniors has picked a real winner for its first group outing,…the artist Taylor Mac who is creating a 24 decade review of American popular music from a drag queen’s vantage point. We are going to catch the first three decades (1776 – 1806) at the ’62 Center in Williamstown on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 8pm. You can lock in your special discount tickets by bringing $3 per person (yes, an extraordinary discounted price) to our first meeting in Pittsfield on February 6, 2-4 pm at the Berkshire Athenaneum. Or call Ed to arrange your payment at 413-441-6006. Or email him at ed@rainbowseniors.org But don’t delay – reservations with our group close February 6.

Not sure it’s to your taste? Honey, this is no time to dilly-dally. Book your place now for a great evening with new friends!

Our first report from San Francisco reports that the show – which is in workshop there – opens with Taylor Mac wearing an elaborate hooped dress fashioned from brightly-colored foil ribbons and a voluminous wig that makes him look like Marie Antoinette had an accident in a Mexican bodega, as the artist begins an epic journey through 240 years of U.S. musical history that’s as timeless as it is prescient.

Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1776-1806. Photos by Jim Norrena
Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1776-1806. Photos by Jim Norrena

She makes crusty old tunes like “Yankee Doodle” and “Amazing Grace” sound like like they were written just in time for this year’s Grammys. The performances carry it too: Although the show is still being polished in San Francisco with Mac and his band still ironing out a few wonky transitions, by the time the team hits Williamstown there is little question that they will breathe new life into both well-known and obscure 18th century ditties. And it’s Mac’s mercurial tenor that anchors the experience: the drag queen’s voice is as colorful as his flamboyant sense of style. There’s crushed velvet and feathers in Mac’s mellifluous ballad singing and 8-inch spiked heels in his drinking song belt.

As colleague Chloe Veltman writes: “In addition to the gaudy get-up mentioned above, there’s an “architectural” dress involving a pair of enormous doric columns, each with a plastic doll’s head dangling from the bottom, and another costume topped with an amazing wig made of wine bottle corks and sheaths of barley.) The thematic through-line connecting the musical numbers also helps to take A 24-Decade History of Popular Music beyond regular drag cabaret.

“Mac underpins each decade of the musical journey with commentaries on broad social issues, which he spices with liberal amounts of scathing humor and personal anecdote. The first decade roughly and comically charts the founding principles of post-Revolutionary U.S.. In the second decade, Mac takes a piquant look at women’s lib. Part Three is all about booze, where the ripe innuendos of raucous drinking songs like “Nine Inch Will Please a Lady” clash against the stiff, bonneted warblings of a scandalized Temperance Choir.” (Read more here.)

And if you like this performance as much as we think you will, you may want to make plans to attend the Civil War years of Taylor Mac’s show – coming up at MASS MoCA with a (gasp! How does she do it!) six hour show on April 9, 4– 10pm.

And you thought Rainbow Seniors just sat around crocheting doilies? Honey, get a grip and put a little fun in your life!