This week Ottawa folks will be treated to an array of eclectic social events. The opening of Flamingo favours the late-night clubgoers, while the lure of tinkling ivories at a piano bar beckons people 50 years and older to sing, dance and socialize in the early evening.
On Wednesday, Jan 26, the Senior Pride Network will hold its first social evening at Friday’s Roast Beef House, with pianist Noel Dimaranan, aka Noel Dimar, playing familiar tunes. The event marks the latest initiative from a group of older gay, lesbian and trans folks who have banded together to create a lifestyle that fits their needs.
Cathy Collett, chair of the Senior Pride Network, says that the idea for an age-specific social event came from discussions held at a forum in June 2010, Creating LGBT Community as We Age.
“There were about 65 people at that event. First thing in the morning people talked about what gave them passion, what interested them and why they came, then a number of small group discussions happened over the day,” says Collett. “One of the areas that some people expressed interest in was creating some social events that were a little more age specific and for the LGBT community, so this is one of those events.”
The network is made up of both community members and service providers who deal with seniors, including Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, Peter D Clark Long-Term Care Facility and a number of other agencies.
“We’re looking at the broader issues around when our community members need services, either in the home or a residential facility. Are those agencies ready and will they be able to be culturally competent and a welcoming environment?” says Collett.
While the network is focused on the bigger picture and the future for aging gay and trans folks, the piano evening gives a little taste of what’s to come in upcoming social evenings.
Although the night is geared to people over 50, those who are younger will not be turned away at the door.
George Hartsgrove is a member of the social committee that organized the event.
“We have decided that it is essentially for people who are 50 years old and their friends, because some people have partners who are younger than that,” says Hartsgrove. “I can’t imagine any 20-year-olds showing up.”