When he came out, Wally was overwhelmed.
Even in his 50s, he often asked himself, “How am I going to be able to do this?” He needed support, education, and, above all else, friendship. He wasn’t sure who or what could help him find his footing—that is until a friend told him about WestMass ElderCare’s Rainbow Supper Club (RSC).
RSC is a casual and engaging support group that offers older adults in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQ+) community opportunities to meet and connect.
Wally began to attend RSC events, which include educational speakers, exciting games, and the camaraderie of peers. He was surprised by how much more joyful he felt after meetings. He was getting the support he needed.
Wally is still an active member of our Rainbow Supper Club today. In fact, he’s on the steering committee! His main goal is to inform and encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of the RSC’s great offerings and events. We invite you to share in his mission by learning more about RSC:
What to Expect at WestMass ElderCare’s Rainbow Supper Club
As the name suggests, RSC events began as monthly in-person dinner socials at the Holyoke Council on Aging. Prior to the pandemic, RSC members gathered on the last Wednesday of each month over dinner to share stories, connect, and enjoy one another’s company. The strong sense of togetherness is still the favorite part of the group. One of our regulars commented:
“You can’t beat the feeling of community at the Rainbow Supper Club. It’s the easiest way to connect with others, meet new people, and share in new experiences.”
RSC offers everything from film screenings, bingo, dances, and drag trivia to affirming, supportive celebrations of one another. Guided conversation topics have included “A New Kind of Pride” and “Pride through the Ages,” as members looked at Pride from the Stonewall Riots to the present day, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone and our celebrations. Past large gatherings have featured keynote speakers who facilitated openness in a comforting, educational environment.
During COVID-19, the RSC went online. By gathering weekly through Zoom, although members had to forego sharing a meal, they maintained social connections despite challenges raised by the pandemic. Online RSC get-togethers maintain the same level of intimacy and connection as in-person meetings. During the hour-long virtual sessions, everyone has a voice, and all members are invited to share theirs whether in the form of questions, answers, stories, or affirmation. No matter the focus of the meeting, every gathering is designed to foster an open, inviting community for everyone who wants or needs some togetherness and support.
Advocating for LGBTQ+ Older Adults
“We are the kind ear with a commitment, first and foremost, to be of support. Then the fun comes after that!” – Wally
A major tenet of the Rainbow Supper Club is advocacy. We work closely with other social justice groups to put focus on the needs of our community and give a voice to those who feel silenced. This includes listening to our members and identifying the areas where they feel pained, neglected, rejected, or otherwise unsupported. We find how we can best amend these wrongs and provide support.
For example, we provide referrals to legal services and support for individuals seeking justice based on discrimination and/or harassment due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or expression. After all, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, and RSC is here to help.
Join the Rainbow Supper Club!
“Try it! It can be hard to join an existing group, but it’s worth checking out. There’s such a sense of belonging here [at the Rainbow Supper Club]. The fun-filled meetings are a great way to meet new people and learn something new, and you can’t forget the food!” – RSC community member
There’s only so much we can say about our RSC programs; to truly understand the community, you must experience it yourself! Luckily, there’s always a fun event right around the corner—we keep all the details updated on our webpage. Now is a great time to check out the RSC calendar as we plan to return to in-person gatherings in the coming months! If you have any further questions, give us a call at 413.538.9020 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.