By Lora C. Thody
Sunday, March 18, marked the ninth year of the Intergenerational Panel event, an event sponsored by Rainbow Sage and the Gay Alliance Youth Group.
his year’s event was held at the First Universalist Church and was themed on “The Importance of Allies in our LGBT Lives.” The event was attended by some thirty people, covering all generations.
The MC this year, Susan Macaluso, welcomed the crowd. A member of the Speakers Bureau, Susan came to GAGV to try to find a voice for herself as an advocate and ally. Susan’s activism in support of LGBT issues was the story of someone truly committed to making a difference. Susan’s story of her family’s history with gay issues and of her continuing search for ways in which she could advocate for others was just the beginning of an excellent program.
What followed were stories of lives highly influenced by straight allies, stories of the importance of allies in times of great stress and stories of allies who went beyond and became true advocates. These were the stories of Laur McSpadden, James Goff, and Kathy Madigan and her partner Julie Carter. They encompassed stories of compassionate family members, church allies, and home-comings, as well as love stories and the heroic battle to find comfort both in one’s own self and loved ones.
The theme of allies and activism colored each story, from Laur McSpadden, whose talk was summed up in her saying that “Being an ally is an action,” through Kathy Madigan who felt that she and her partner demonstrated, early in the movement, to a number of people in their circles who have since become allies, that “you could be both gay and a good person.”
Rounding out the evening was the story of Jamie and Sally Whitbeck, a pair of allies-turned-advocates who found themselves seeking justice and civil rights for friends and strangers alike and who, through twists and turns, helped form and influence what has become the ImageOut film festival. In a fascinating tale told jointly, they wove in aspects of their personal stories with those of LGBT people they had met along the way.
The evening had a number of touches from many years ago, with stories of the “before” times, as well as current issues of today, and touched on many similarities felt across the LGBT community through the generations. As in the past, the Rainbow SAGE event brought those generations together.
By Lora C. Thody