When the Sebastopol Senior Center took second place at the Apple Blossom Festival Parade for their float, board member Alan Beckstead, who built the float, kept working on it.
Then the center decided to enter the float in the Sonoma County Pride Parade, which took place on June 1 in downtown Santa Rosa. The float took first place in two categories: “creativity and originality” and “best use of theme.” The parade’s theme this year was “love,” and the senior center’s float’s theme was “1969,” the year that the center was founded and a seminal year in gay history.
“The beautiful part about that is it aligns to the same year as the Stonewall riots, which ushered in the Gay Rights movement,” said Scotty King, operations manager for the senior center and LGBTQ community liaison.
On ongoing commitment to LGBTQ seniors
The Sebastopol Senior Center’s commitment to LGBTQ seniors goes far beyond participating in the pride parade once a year.
“We fly the rainbow flag every day; it’s a welcoming environment for everyone. We have LGBTQ brochures, resources to hand out. It’s a very safe place,” King said.
As part of his job as operations manager, King writes a LGBTQ blog for the center and helps organize events for gay seniors in the community.
The senior center has four LGBTQ dances a year. The next one happens on July 13 and has a ’60s summer beach party theme.
One of the senior center’s other pride projects right now is an exhibit of Beckstead’s artwork, which is hanging at the center until July 17.
“We have a couple of dozen of his huge, gorgeous paintings, celebrating pride. People are welcome to come by; it’s free to peruse our hallway,” King said.
Cleve Jones visits this week
Renowned gay activist Cleve Jones will visit the senior center on Friday, June 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Known for creating the AIDS quilt, Jones is now a Guerneville resident. He will discuss his book, “When We Rise,” which was adapted into a TV movie. Tickets are $10. Space is limited so sign up now at sebastopolseniorcenter.org.