On Saturday November 8th I had the privilege of emceeing the 20th Lavender Seniors of the East Bay Gala at the North Oakland Senior Center. There were more than 200 folks present.
The mission [of the Lavender Seniors] is to improve the quality of life of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Lavender Seniors advances this mission through direct services, outreach, advocacy and education. A critical aspect of this work is ensuring that LGBT elders are well-prepared emotionally, physically, legally, and socially in their later years.
Here are 10 things I learned:
1. Mary Watkins, who performed at the gala, was on the first cover by Olivia records featuring an African American lesbian in 1978.
2. The Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus (OEBGMC) also performed. They are 15 years old and started at Oakland Pride, made their first public appearance at a Lavender Seniors Gala and also performed at the 10th Anniversary gala.
3. Voices Lesbian A Cappella for Justice performed as well. They formed 27 years ago under various names and performed with OEBGMC earlier this year.
4. Lavender Seniors were started by 34 pioneering men and women.
5. The Lavender Seniors are "gay and grey".
6. Lavender Seniors help more than 800 seniors annually reduce isolation.
7. Lavender Seniors are the recipient of a $50,000 grant to teach providers how to create LGBT awareness.
8. Lavender Seniors received numerous proclamations from city, county, and state officials.
9. Lavender Seniors started with training curriculum around health care issues.
10. I am a "lavender senior" and have been for 7 years.
Love, peace, compassion and blessings.