Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gays Struggling to Connect in Marin: A Response

Thanks to Paul Liberatore for shining a light on the LGBT community in Marin. Spectrum LGBT Center has been in Marin since 1982, providing programs and services for, and on behalf of, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the North Bay.

Throughout my 13 years as executive director, I’ve heard many LGBT people lament that they cannot find other gay people in Marin. I believe that many LGBT people living in Marin actually LIKE the fact that there is no gay ‘scene’. They have escaped gay culture and are quietly living among their straight neighbors, raising families and hosting backyard barbeques. Older LGBT people in their 70s and 80s often tend to be less open about who they are, much like their peers throughout the U.S. This tendency, by the way, puts older LGBT people at great risk for isolation and depression.

A sort of assimilation occurs in Marin County, not because it is such an open and accepting place for LGBT people, but because some LGBT people are reluctant to be completely out and visible here. Why?

I offer this observation: It’s not cool to be blatantly gay here in Marin. A standard of conformity compels some to remove the rainbow bumper stickers from the cars, and keep the gay flag inside the house. Marin, after all, is a well-heeled county. We can’t have our glitter falling just anywhere. We’ve learned how to pass.

We like to think of Marin as being progressive, fair-minded, and accepting of all people. But consider this: In 2008, 25% of Marin voters rejected gay marriage. The idea of incorporating gay people into middle and high school history lessons infuriates many in this county, and not just because it is now required by law. Many assisted living facilities in Marin prevent same-sex couples from occupying the same room, giving preference to married heterosexual couples. And, while there are a number of congregations that welcome LGBT people and families, Marin’s faith communities are divided on this issue. (A little-known fact: for nearly 40 years, San Rafael has been home to a prominent founder of the ex-gay movement, who advertises his ministry as ‘finding freedom from homosexuality’).

Spectrum has long been involved with educating the community about acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for LGBT people. We are making every effort to open doors among traditional communities to start dialog and raise awareness. It’s not always easy, but there have been positive shifts within our schools and community institutions since our founding in 1982.

Here’s the good news: there are, in fact, a number of events that occur on a regular basis for the LGBT community. Spectrum keeps our website calendar updated with all that we know about at If you are one of those gays struggling to find your community in Marin, don’t expect to bump in to it on the street. You’re going to have to get out and find it. And, if you are willing to be out like Vincent and Douglass, give me a call. We need you to help us create the community you’re hoping to find.

Paula Pilecki, Executive Director
Spectrum LGBT Center
(415) 472-1945, ext. 209


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spectrum LGBT Center Brings GEN SILENT to Marin County in September

Spectrum LGBT Center's SEEN THROUGH FILM Project is bringing GEN SILENT to Marin County on Thursday, September 8th

This important new documentary by filmmaker Stu Maddux highlights the challenges facing aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

TWO SCREENINGS:Both are free and open to the public

Thursday, September 8, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Margaret Todd Senior Center
1560 Hill Road, Novato
Co-sponsored by the Marin County Division of Aging and Adult Services
A short version of the film, followed by discussion, during the regular meeting of the Marin County Commission on Aging.

Thursday, September 8, 7:15 pm – 9:00 pm
The Redwoods - A Community of Seniors
40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley
Featuring the full-length film with discussion.

SPECIAL GUEST AT BOTH EVENTS: Award-winning director and filmmaker, Stu Maddux

RSVP requested to
(415) 472-1945 x209
Please state which date(s) you will attend.

GEN SILENT is a new documentary from award-winning director, documentary film¬maker, and Marin County resident, Stu Maddux. What would you do if you were old, disabled or ill ‐and the person feeding you put down the spoon and explained that you are going to hell unless you change your sexual orientation? Sound absurd? According to social workers, it’s happening every day.

This hour-long film explores the challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults who must depend on a system of care that is reluctant to recognize their needs. As we witness the challenges that these men and women face, we also see hope as each subject crosses paths with an impassioned professional trying in their own way to change an entire care industry.

For more information about the film, visit the GEN SILENT website.

Spectrum LGBT Center’s Seen Through Film Project builds community among, and raises awareness about the real lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Support for this project is provided by a grant from Marin Community Foundation, with additional funding from PG&E Corporation. For more information, visit Spectrum’s website at