Rainbow Vision© Lauren Greenfield
RainbowVision, the first gay retirement community in the U.S, opened in 2006. Located in arts-happy Santa Fe, New Mexico, RainbowVision’s 146 living units sold out immediately. Residents have access to a cabaret, as well as yoga classes, medical facilities, and the hottest gay nightlife in the region. The Silver Starlight Lounge calendar is filled with weekly activities such as “Oh So Gay” and “Where the Boys Are” happy hours.
Hailing from the generation of the Stonewall riots, the gay rights movement, and the birth of AIDS, these seniors did not take for granted either the luxury of growing old, or mainstream acceptance. RainbowVision offers both, as well as creature comforts, good design, and great food. RainbowVision’s policy of inclusion is universal: many residents are straight, having chosen the atypical Santa Fe community as an alternative to a traditional retirement home. It is a truly anomalous lifestyle; when RainbowVision opens its dance floors to the outside community, it becomes the only gay bar in Santa Fe. Reliably popular among young and old, retirees are exposed to some risqué behavior (and are also occasional participants).
RainbowVision’s tagline “It’s not a lifestyle — it’s your life” encourages its residents to continue their lives as they would normally. Several maintain part-time careers, start book clubs, and travel together. More so is the freedom to “… live someplace where we’re not shunned,” says Roger Bergstrom, 77, a former member of the Gay Men’s Chorus in Washington, D.C., who moved in with his partner, Barry Baltzley. Before dating men, Roger was married to a woman for 25 years, and has one daughter and three grandchildren. Some of the residents felt they were not able to be openly gay before arriving at RainbowVision, one of the first American retirement communities catering to a middle-income gay clientele.
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