LGBT seniors supper club launches

November 9, 2012
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Ethos, a Jamaica Plain-based senior care organization, has launched a new program to build and support the LGBT seniors community: Out4Supper, a monthly dinner club, hosted by Mount Pleasant Home.

Out4Supper is aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people aged 60 or over, though younger people are welcome as companions or guests. There is no income requirement for the meal, though a voluntary donation of $5 is welcome, Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, said.

“The food is made by a chef. It’s a really nice meal,” Mitchell said. “I’m a foodie and I would happily eat it.”

Out4Supper is hosted by Mt. Pleasant Home at 301 South Huntington Ave., a choice of venue both Mitchell and Mount Pleasant Executive Director Merlin Southwick praise.

“Dale called me, asking if we would be interested in hosting. I said we’d be thrilled and excited,” Southwick explained. “One of our larger goals is to keep our residents connected to the larger community, and as we got more and more into [planning], it felt like an extension of our mission.”

“We really can’t do this kind of program without a space to provide the welcome mat,” Mitchell said.“We’re very proud to be doing this. I live in JP, our offices are in JP. I’m thrilled that this is hosted in JP,” Mitchell said. “This is definitely one of the most rewarding things in my career.”

Out4Supper, like its predecessors, Out4Brunch and Café Emmanuel, is a recurring social dinner for LGBT seniors. According to Mitchell, LGBT seniors are much more likely to be isolated than their straight counterparts, a fact that lead to the creation of these programs.

“As we get older, we become more isolated, everyone does. But for elder heterosexuals, there are systems to combat that,” Mitchell explained. “Ethos is trying to stitch together a network of

Café Emmanuel, first started seven years ago, was the first LGBT-friendly meal program in New England and one of the first in the country, Mitchell said.

“We had no idea what to expect, but it became very popular very quickly,” he said. “It’s been extremely successful.”

After noticing how well Café Emmanuel, held in the Back Bay, was taking off with male LGBT seniors, Ethos created a similar program for senior LGBT ladies—Out4Brunch.

Many elder lesbians must continue to work, Mitchell explained, as they don’t have a husband’s pension to support them like many straight women do, which led to the decision to schedule a weekend meal.

And now, Out4Supper is a place for all LGBT seniors to come together and enjoy a good meal, Mitchell said.

Ethos also sponsors Crossroads Café at First Baptist Church at 633 Centre St., a weekly Saturday lunch for all seniors and their guests.

Out4Supper is the first Ethos program funded by the Ethos Equality Fund (EEF), launched by Ethos in February. EEF is the Boston area’s first fund dedicated solely to supporting aging LGBT people.

“Public dollars are not available [for this kind of program], and we can’t see a future where they will be available, but we don’t want to just tread water,” Mitchell said. “We’ve caught on with something here that is extremely powerful.”

Mitchell said he was realistically expecting to raise $5,000 for EEF. Ethos netted $20,000, which allowed it to launch Out4Supper on Sept. 4.

“This is extremely personally satisfying,” he said. “Ethos has definitely proven [to mainstream organizations] that doing this is possible.”

Future dates are planned for the first Tuesday of the month. For more info, call 617-522-6700.

Ethos Out4Supper guests during the inauguratory dinner on Sept. 4. (Courtesy Photo)