Rainbow triangle

This week we are pleased to introduce our guest blogger, Pauline Bosma, Project Consultant for the Rainbow Support Group of Massachusetts.

Groups provide support  around the state

The Rainbow Support Group (RSG) is for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them be comfortable with who they are. We have four support groups in the state of Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island. The RSG is part of Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS) and is supported by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

The RSG is for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered (GLBT) or who have questions about their sexual identity. The groups are hosted by different agencies across Massachusetts, with members of each group writing their own agenda.

Some of the activities the groups have done are: talking about rights, health issues like AIDS, and understanding what GLBT means. Some groups have attended Pride Day events in Boston and Northampton. It is up to the individual groups to decide what is important and interesting to them.

The importance of a safe environment

I think it is important to have RSG because there used to be no support within the intellectual disability system for people who use services and are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning their sexual identity. Support is important so people can live the lives they want to. The RSG gives them a safe, comfortable environment to talk about their issues, decide when they are ready to come out, and how to come out to other people.

Pauline Bosma
Pauline Bosma

I started RSG in 2004 with help from the Kennedy-Donovan Center. RSG is modeled after a similar group in New Haven, CT. For several years, there was only one group, in Central Mass. In 2008, I went to Commissioner Howe of DDS, along with MASS coordinator Ed Bielecki, DDS trainer Pat Carney and MASS coordinator Elaine Spier-Kalmar from western MA. We asked the commissioner about trying to expand the groups across the state. Commissioner Howe has supported a small project through MASS that has allowed us to grow to where we are now.

If you are a person who is interested in learning more about the RSG, you can reach us at: rainbows_58@yahoo.com , mass1998@earthlink.net , Patricia.Carney@state.ma.us or call: 1-866-426-2253 (1-866-IamAble).