As a sexologist/sexuality counselor, I’m pretty passionate about LGBTQIA etc. rights and health. And there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of support for folks here in Lake County, CA. (Coming from the S.F. Bay Area, I’m spoiled by a dazzling array of community resources.)

That’s why I’m starting a support group for “the rainbow” and its ally/accomplices at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, starting Feb. 28, 2018 (2-3 PM). To cover the room cost, I’ll be asking for a donation of $1-$5, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

(All I ask is that you show up “fragrance free” – your clothing too – as I experience a range of symptoms, including asthma, that will make it impossible to teach or facilitate if there is scent.) 

But my motivation for starting the Rainbow Room is personal as well as professional. During my childhood I was blessed with knowing my gay uncle, David E.O. Rath (an English teacher at S.F. City College), and my lesbian aunt, Mary Milne (who worked with people with developmental delays) – two of the most loving and supportive people I’ve ever known. My uncle fed my love of books when I was little, and as I grew older, we had wonderful, amazing conversations – usually a mix of art, music, history, books, and gossip. My aunt gave me unconditional love and always spoke from the heart. Sadly, both have passed too soon. I lost my aunt to leukemia several years ago. My uncle died in 1986 from HIV/Aids. The Names Project quilt piece we made for him is at bottom right in the photo. My aunt is memorialized with a tile that says “Mary E. Milne – Best Aunt” somewhere in the Portland Zoo. (She at least got to enjoy that recognition when she was still alive.)

In addtion, of my two children (both adult), one is a trans, queer, non-binary person. I am happy to say that our family was and is completely accepting. It’s more than “acceptance,” though, it’s love and appreciation – pure and simple.

So because of how I’ve grown up and the people I’ve been blessed to know, I happen to think that LGBTQIA etc. folks deserve more than just “tolerance” and “acceptance” from society. They deserve celebration, appreciation, and yes, wholehearted love.

So that’s the thought behind the Rainbow Room. I’m hoping it becomes a place and a space where the people who attend get what they need, and co-create in the making of a safe, “no shame zone” for all who show up.