NEW SENIOR CENTER LGBTQI PROGRAMS: With the help of an LGBTQI Giving Circle grant, Sonoma County Adult and Aging Services was able to provide the staff of three Sonoma County senior centers — Finley Community Center’s Senior Wing in Santa Rosa, Vintage House in Sonoma, and the Sebastopol Area Senior Center — with cultural competency training in LGBTQI aging issues in 2016-2017. All three have since added new special programs for LGBTQI seniors including “Aging Gayfully” classes (see below). The Sebastopol Area Senior Center has also scheduled an exciting February field trip to the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco as well as committed to continuing their extremely popular bi-monthly LGBT Seniors Dance (next one February 24th) and their very informative on-line LGBTQI Eldership Resource Center.
NEW “AGING GAYFULLY” CLASSES: I am so grateful and excited that the three free “Aging Gayfully” classes offered last fall by Santa Rosa JC’s Older Adults Programs will resume January 17th & 18th at the three senior centers for the Spring Semester (see attached flyer). These classes are an outgrowth of the 8-week workshops that were given at a number of Sonoma County locations under an earlier grant from the LGBTQI Giving Circle. I hope you will check out the attached flyer and consider contributing your life stories as well as your humor and insights to our fun and informative weekly discussions. Continuation of this unique opportunity for us to gather depends on adequate enrollment so come to one of the first class meetings and check it out!
NEW NORTH BAY RAINBOW NETWORK: Many members of our community were affected by last October’s fires, some severely with the loss of housing, income. vital healthcare equipment or pets and others perhaps less severely but perhaps left with physical or emotional health challenges from the stress of responding to the crisis and/or prolonged evacuation. A group of concerned individuals has formed the North Bay Rainbow Network to (1) create greater awareness of fire recovery organizations of the fires’ impact on our community and (2) to connect affected community members with these organizations who can help in a variety of ways. While the website (www.northbayrainbownetwork.org) is still under construction, there will soon be a survey that you can complete to let us know how you were affected and your needs. Perhaps this could continue to be a virtual way for us to connect with needs and resources!
NEW OPENING DOORS FOR LGBTI SENIORS COALITION: To continue the work that has been done under two previous LGBTQI Giving Circle grants, Sonoma County Adult and Aging Services has contracted with my colleague Nancy Flaxman to facilitate a series of meetings of representatives from senior service agencies in the county and help them develop strategies for increasing our accessibility to services and community support with greater confidence and comfort.
NEW LGBTQI SENIOR DISCUSSION GROUP: A new Russian River group was started in 2017 and meets the 2nd Saturday from 12:30 – 2 pm in the Marshall House at the Russian River Senior Resource Center in Guerneville. Volunteer-led LGBTQI senior discussion groups also continue to meet in Santa Rosa (fourth Tuesdays 1-3 pm at the Glaser Center) and in Sonoma (third Fridays 10 am – noon at Vintage House). For home-bound or transportation-limited LGBT seniors, the Senior Center Without Walls also offers a semi-monthly LGBT Telephone Chat Group.
NEW SENIOR RESOURCE GUIDE: The Sonoma County 2018 edition should be coming out soon and will continue to have the special section of resources for LGBTQI seniors that was included for the first time just two years ago. I think of that section as “The Lavender Pages” when it comes to locating resources that can help with our LGBTQI-related aging challenges.
NEW LGBTQI ORAL HISTORY PROJECT: This exciting inter-generational project is sponsored by the organization Listening For a Change with funding from the LGBTQI Giving Circle. The project invites LGBTQI youth to videotape interviews with LGBTQI elders and vice versa. Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this unique project! See attached flyer for Spring workshop dates.
NEW INTER-GENERATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: With Positive Images continuing its innovative work with youth and now the expansion of LGBTQ Connection into Sonoma County, there were a number of inter-generational events planned and hosted by LGBTQI youth in 2017 that gave those of us who helped pioneer our rights movement an opportunity to see what the younger generation is doing to further our work. Look for more of these events in 2018!
NEW LGBTQ+ SUMMIT: The first free annual gathering for Sonoma County LGBTQ+ individuals and allies of all ages was held in September under sponsorship of Positive Images with partial funding by the LGBTQI Giving Circle. It was such a huge success that another is being planned for this coming September. Don’t miss it!
NEW SONOMA COUNTY PRIDE EVENTS: Already in the planning and promising to be bigger and better than ever, so mark your calendars for the first weekend in June for an all-age county-wide celebration! The Sonoma Valley LGBT Seniors Group will also be hosting a Gay Pride Tea Dance for older adults on Thursday, June 7th at Vintage House.
NEW LGBTQI FILM FESTIVAL: In 2017 OutWatch Film Festival partnered with the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival to bring us some short films of interest to our community and then, in spite of the fires, went ahead with their popular annual fall festival bringing us another great selection of films that mirror our lives and donating festival profits to our community’s fire victims. We look forward to more great films in 2018!
CONTINUING ON-LINE AND MEDIA SUPPORT: Our go-to website for news and LGBTQI events will continue to be www.gaysonoma.com with its special section for Seniors and station KRCB will continue to bring us current news and interesting interviews that address our community’s issues on its Outbeat Radio program.
CONTINUING CONNECTION OPPORTUNITIES: LGBTQI adults can continue to access informal networks such as Sonoma County Gaydar and LGBTQ Meetups.