GREENFIELD — For gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender elders, growing old can be a time of loneliness and isolation. This is especially true for those without family or who feel uncomfortable in social settings.
“People need a place where they can go, if they don’t feel they’re part of the regular norm,” said Leea Pronovost.
Rainbow Elders of LifePath (formerly the Franklin County Home Care Corp.) was formed by and for LGBT elders to create social connections for gay elders and to educate others, especially health care workers and caregivers.
“Many of us don’t have children and don’t always have a network of support,” said David Gott of Rainbow Elders. Gott is among the members of the Rainbow Elders Steering Committee, which gives presentations on LGBTIQA concerns. The steering committee tries to raise awareness and compassion among those who work with the elderly.
LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (born with both male and female chromosomes), queer or questioning and asexual or “ally.”
Four times a year, Rainbow Elders holds social events that include an annual winter breakfast, an intergenerational dinner in April with the LGBT community at Greenfield Community College, a July picnic and an educational forum in October. Past programs have dealt with legal and financial issues, housing, transportation and diversity of sexual expression.
Rainbow Elders and the South County Senior Center have teamed up to start a monthly lunch club for elders in the LGBT community. At least 350 elders are on the Rainbow Elders mailing list, according to LifePath Director of Community Services Lynne Feldman.