The Nonotuck Resource Associates community recently celebrated Pride Month with a spirited LGBTQIA+ Pride Panel. Held virtually, the panel featured a diverse group, including a small business owner, a disco pioneer, IT professional and DJ, an event planner, and even a Nonotuck shared living provider. The panel was organized by Nonotuck’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and moderated by Placement Specialist Nichole Bourke, committee co-chair.
After an introductory poem by podcaster/poet Diana Christopher (aka DePoet), Nonotuck welcomed the following guests:
Muirgen Neal has been an out lesbian for 14 years, and out as nonbinary for one. They run LGBAccessibiliT, a small business making mobility accessories and unisex mastectomy and hysterectomy pillows for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Tony is a Nonotuck shared living provider who previously served as the Outreach Coordinator for Tapestry Health’s MSM program from January 2004 to September 2008. Tony served as the lead staff person on a team that conducted interviews with men from all age groups and vocations, exploring their lifestyles pertaining to social/sexual activities and the connection between the use of substances and its correlation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Taurean Bethea, a Springfield native, started his career in fashion, working for the top brands within the industry, as well as planning events. He co-launched the Best in the City brand of events with Travis Best in 2009. He recently took on a new venture, founding Springfield’s Pride Parade organization in Massachusetts.
A pioneer of the disco era, P.B. established the first gay disco in the Springfield, Massachusetts area at The Stanchion Lounge in 1977. A music promoter and disc jockey staple in nightclubs since then, P.B. has headlined at dance hot spots all over the northeast. P.B. was producer of the area’s first local radio mix show “Star Cruiser'' on WMAS-FM “Disco 95” during the late 1970’s and early 80’s, sponsored by the Lechmere department store chain. Listen here.
A long-time Chicopee resident and recent retiree from a 35-year IT career at local companies such as MassMutual and Travelers, P.B. now focuses on helping to produce local fundraising events, working with music as his hobby in his home studio and playing dad to his dog Pablo.
The panel discussed topics ranging from the power of inclusive spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community, the importance of pronouns, and coming out to their families. The panel also described ways in which they connect with their communities, whether it be through apps, the gym, clubs, and even ballroom dancing.
“We are so grateful to each of the presenters for showing up with such vulnerability and openness and to Nichole Bourke for moderating and holding the space for us all to learn and grow,” says Nonotuck Wellness Coordinator (and Diversity and Inclusion Committee Co-chair) Jannelle Robinson. “Our hope is that these panels will create opportunities for continued connection and understanding.”
Watch the panel below:
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.