Rainbow seniors group brings people from isolation to community

By Jim Morrison

Montreal resident, Cindy Casey, has conviction. The director of events at the Beaconsfield United Church for the past 17 years understands the importance of acceptance in today’s society. She was inspired in creating a youth centre for gays and lesbians after a cathedral encounter several years ago, when several parishioners requested the church to forbid inclusion of gays in cathedral services.

“We had people ask us to sign a petition to ban gays, and lesbians from the parish. They went as far as to ask our minister, who is gay, to take part in this request,” said Casey.

According to the United Nations, ten percent of the population is acknowledged as being gay or lesbian.

“Looking over the 50 pictures of the children that were part of the congregation, which five children, would not be recognized? Everyone matters to me,” Casey told The Suburban.

Casey runs the youth centre which officially opened its doors in May 2011; and the adult group in October 2011. The success of the above mentioned groups prompted requests from the older generation asking if there were support bases for seniors.

Casey created Rainbow Seniors in August 2013 under the brainchild of Pastor Shaun Friday, of the parish. It is focused on a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning adults (LGBTQ) age 50+.

“The mentality of seniors growing up was that homosexuality was considered a crime,” said Casey.

History shows that on Aug. 16, 1965, the Pine Point RCMP, detained Everett George Klippert, a mechanic’s helper at a zinc mine in The Northwest territories, questioning about arson in the community. He was established as having nothing to do with the crime, but was detained under gross indecency under section 149 of the Criminal Code, due to his known homosexuality. Klippert faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Prime Minister, introduced Bill C-150. It, amongst other things, decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. The law passed, and homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969.

“Take this thing on homosexuality, I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter,” said Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the House of Commons on Dec. 21, 1967. Klippert remained in prison until July 21, 1971, and went on to live an additional 25 years. “We offer LGBTQ members, an exclusive space, where safety and security is primary. The church is homophobic free,” added Casey.

The LGBTO openness’ of homosexuality is in stark contrast to the stance of Sochi Mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov, who stated that there are no gay people living in his city on the eve of the Olympic Games.

Casey visits retirement homes, and group organizations to help bring those from isolation, to community. Casey has a three year plan for the program. The first year is dedicated to creating the centre, the second year is developing workshops, and the third year is obtaining a charitable status. “Everyone matters to me,” added a determined Casey.

Rainbow Seniors currently have 30 members in the West Island.

Beaconsfield United Church, 202 Woodside Rd, Beaconsfield QC H9W 2P1

Cindy Casey, coordinator, 514-826-3541 E-mail: wirainbowseniors@gmail.com
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