By Jim Morrison
Montreal resident Cindy Casey talks the talk and walks the walk. As director of events at the Beaconsfield United church the past 17 years, she understands the importance of acceptance in today’s society.
She was inspired to create a youth centre for gays and lesbians after a cathedral encounter several years ago, when several parishioners requested the church to forbid inclusion of gays in cathedral services.
“We had people ask us to sign a petition to ban gays and lesbians from the parish. They went as far as to ask our minister, who is gay, to take part in this request,” said Casey.
According to the United Nations, 10 per cent of the population is acknowledged as being gay or lesbian.
“Looking over the 50 pictures of the children that were part of the congregation, which five children would not be recognized? Everyone matters to me,” Casey told The Suburban.
Casey runs the youth centre, which officially opened its doors in May 2011, and the adult group in October 2011.
The success of the above mentioned groups prompted requests from the older generation asking if there were support bases for seniors.
Casey created The Rainbow Seniors in August of 2013 under the guidance of Pastor Shaun Fryday. It is focused on a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) adults age 50-plus.
“The mentality of seniors growing up was that homosexuality was considered a crime,” said Casey. It was only decriminalized under Prime Minister Trudeau’s Bill C-150 in 1969.
“We offer LGBTQ members an exclusive space, where safety and security is primary. The church is “homophobic-free,” added Casey.
This year, the youth center organized a spring prom where 100 people attended.
“The tweenies reached out to the older age group as they felt compelled in respecting their paving the way for this generation. Same sex couples with parents on hand offered joy and bridged the generation gap,” Casey told The Suburban.
“As a senior and a lesbian, I hope that I can give to the youth of today what I missed in my youth, that they value themselves for who they are. I’ve had to fight to be myself and to be respected. I’m proud to call myself a lesbian,” said Dollard des Ormeaux resident, Sharon Hill.
Casey visits all manner of groups and organizations to help bring those who are isolated back into the community. There are currently 42 members, four joining in December alone. A 40 percent increase from last year.
Rainbow seniors can be reached at:
Beaconsfield United Church
202 Woodside Rd,
Beaconsfield QC H9W 2P1
Cindy Casey, coordinator
Phone:  826-3541