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Stories

The Rainbow! Understanding Diverse Expressions of Gender, Sexuality, and Relationships

Rainbow Elders Steering CommitteeThe Rainbow Elders Steering Committee: Leea Pronovost, Dave Gott, Donna Liebl, and JRSince May 2016, a panel of Rainbow Elders has shared life stories and educational tools with audiences at senior centers, home care agencies, retirement communities, and support group settings. A one-hour presentation is followed by a lively question-and-answer period, during which listeners have an opportunity to learn more about the experiences of the speakers and to relate what has been presented to their professional and personal interests.

The identities of transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay people are addressed by individuals who live those lives. Additional identities are also noted, including pansexual, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, aromantic, agender, and allies. Any question is welcomed and will be addressed if appropriate to do so. A climate of safety and respect is encouraged, and follow-up resources are provided.

A goal of these presentations is to help empower people to be able to offer culturally competent services to the LGBTIQA elder community, whose members are often at increased risk for inadequate access to health care services, social isolation, substance abuse, and other high-risk experiences due to societal and internalized expressions of homophobia. An opportunity is also provided to be inspired by the resilience of many LGBTIQA folks who have long been misunderstood.

“Any question is welcomed and will be addressed if appropriate to do so. A climate of safety and respect is encouraged, and follow-up resources are provided.”

Recent questions directed to the panelists have included:

  • “What do I do when a client is expressing negative stereotypes regarding an LGBTIQA person?”
  • “Why does it matter if I show LGBTIQA-specific support when I am just in the home to help someone take a bath or balance a checkbook?”

The conversations that ensue are not to be missed! According to Rainbow Elders Group Facilitator Dave Gott, "I appreciate how both presenters and guests seem to have open hearts and minds regarding the needs of all elders."

For more information or to request a presentation, contact Dave at 413-773-5555 x1242, 978-544-2259 x1242, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.