Judi Wilson, Director of the Orleans (MA) Council on Aging, hosts a monthly LGBT Senior Dinner. In getting to know the attendees, she saw a central theme: their coming out experiences had a big impact on their lives. As a mother of three teenagers, Judi felt that the stories and experiences of many of the older adults in the LGBT seniors group could have a positive impact if shared with youth.
What if? What if we got LGBT seniors and teens together to share their experiences and foster friendships while enjoying a light dinner?
Putting her strategic thinking cap on, Judi and her team put together an informative flyer. They reached out to Thrive, a program at Cape & Islands Gay and Straight Youth Alliance that supports LGBTQ young adults. They notified local high school counselors about the dinner and invited all teens and their loved ones to attend.
More than 75 people came! Guests sat at tables of mixed ages. Conversations flowed as people enjoyed a make-your-own taco dinner. Then a panel of several people of different ages and backgrounds shared their own coming-out stories – from a woman in her 70s to a teenager – as well as someone from PFLAG and others who are supporting today’s LGBT teens. One of the highlights was hearing a timeline of historical events in the LGBT movement with shouts-out to people in the audience who were actually there.
The evening provided an opportunity to recognize our shared humanity and our need to be inclusive and welcoming of all people – regardless of sexual orientation or age.
In the future, the group plans to host another intergenerational program focusing on Stonewall and to see what happens from there.
For more information, please contact Judi Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.