UPDATE: See calendar, June 26, 2013, Open House for the Fall Semester.
Remember your first day at college, anxious about meeting your new roommate? Then the feeling of relief a few days later when you realized you were destined to become lifelong friends? The Stonewall LLI meets UMass Boston’s Osher LLI story is very much like that! When the Stonewall Lifelong Learning Institute, a group of senior gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered folks in the Boston area unexpectedly needed a new home in the fall of 2011, UMass Boston’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute welcomed them with open arms.
The Stonewall LLI became the first such group to be officially recognized in the Osher LLI network nationwide. To ease the first-semester transition, the Stonewall group designated Mondays at OLLI as its day to hold classes and hour-long brown bag lunch programs which they’d already arranged.
Everyone at OLLI was invited — and encouraged — to attend. That first semester saw classes on “Acting For the Fun of It,” “Memoir Writing,” and “Native American Two-Spirit Poetry.” Brown-Bag talks included both a lesbian and gay men’s coming out panel, a discussion by representatives from PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays), and a presentation by a Stonewall member about what it means to be transgendered. The acting class even presented a well-attended performance of skits at the end of the semester.
One year later, the Stonewall Special Interest Group (SIG) meets monthly and hosts a range of special speakers. Members are teaching classes, such as “American Sign Language,” “i Pad for Beginners,” “Acting for the fun of it,” “Perspectives on Death and Dying,” and “LGBT Families.” Stonewall folks have joined the curriculum, technology, and travel committees and a member was elected to the OLLI Board. They’ve even built a solid connection with the Student Queer Center, (The Q) on campus, attending Open Houses and participating in poetry slams.
Next January, a Stonewall travel expert is leading a fully enrolled trip to Cuba that was open to all OLLI members. The new Stonewall students are enjoying all the many benefits of OLLI at UMass/Boston. And each person especially appreciates doing so in a community of openness, mutual respect and value for each individual. It’s kind of like discovering you have the perfect roommate!
Reprinted from National Resource Center for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes Newsletter December 2012.
For more information about Stonewall at OLLI go to http://www.umb.edu/olli/sigs/stonewall_at_olli