Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation: Stories of the Rainbow Support Group

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Overview

Experience the birth of the first support group for sexual minorities with developmental disabilities!

Reflecting an unprecedented development in the disabled and sexual minority communities, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation: Stories of the Rainbow Support Group describes the founding, achievements, and history of a unique group providing support for people with developmental disabilities or mental retardation (DD/MR) who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. In this pathbreaking book, group founder John D. Allen describes the Rainbow Support Group's beginnings in 1998 at the New Haven Gay & Lesbian Community Center in Connecticut and the ways in which it has been shattering myths and stereotypes surrounding people with mental retardation ever since.

From the author: "Not only are people with DD/MR full human beings with the same needs and desires for intimacy and healthy sexual expression as people without intellectual disabilities, but the group is evidence that some people with DD/MR have an understanding of sexual orientation as well. Acknowledging that people with mental retardation are sexual is a new development in the human service field, but one that is still in the pre-Stonewall days regarding those who are gay. Although people with mental retardation are given unprecedented freedom to make personal vocational decisions, there is an unfounded expectation that they do not have a sexuality—let alone a homosexuality. Members of the Rainbow Support Group discuss the same concerns as other gay people, but in a support system that recognizes their unique perspective."

This insightful book shows how membership in the Rainbow Support Group addresses the very real fears and concerns of its members, including:

  • being forced into heterosexual social situations, since that is the only available option for socialization
  • dealing with being "outed" to peers and staff—since many DD/MR people are not their own legal guardians, this can lead to removal of privileges, various kinds of abuse, and other negative consequences in their day-to-day lives
  • being ridiculed by unsupportive staff
  • being excluded from family functions because of their sexual orientation
It also illustrates the purely positive aspects of membership in the group, which provides:
  • a place to learn appropriate ways to meet others, hear messages about safe sex, and feel empowered to advocate for their own intimacy needs
  • an increased chance of finding a like-minded partner (although the group is certainly not a "dating service")
  • an avenue for members to connect with others like them and with the larger gay community in the area
  • events to participate in, such as holiday parties, field trips, movie nights, and gay pride celebrations
The author continues: "What is exciting are the positive outcomes displayed once an individual enters the group. Members quickly develop a sense of ownership and wear rainbow-emblazoned clothing to meetings. Everyone has joined the host community center to begin receiving regular mailings and event discounts. Supervising staff report that members perform better at work, have fewer behavioral issues, and experience a greater feeling of contentment. For people with mental retardation, just to be able to say the words 'gay,' 'lesbian,' 'bisexual,' and 'transgender' in an affirming environment is a cutting-edge breakthrough. What the group has accomplished and will hopefully continue to illuminate is the understanding that people with DD/MR are entitled to a whole life experience, including discovering and enjoying their sexuality."
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What People Are Saying

Dan Woog
This is A TREMENDOUSLY VALUABLE BOOK. . . . Anyone involved in any way with people with developmental disabilities and mental retardation—family members, friends, social workers, therapists, teachers, clergy—will come away educated, inspired, and moved. By showing, strongly but compassionately, that every human being is also a sexual being, John Allen encourages us to look beyond our differences. . . . That is a lesson all of us need desperately to learn. . . . A POWERFUL BOOK.
Author of School's Out: The Impact of Gay and Lesbian Issues on America's Schools
Leslie Walker-Hirsch
Proudly and publicly enlightens us about a safe place for men and women with intellectual disabilities who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender to find understanding, support, and sometimes even friendship. The support group members tell their stories, simply and without self-pity. THANK YOU, members of the Rainbow Support Group, for sharing your stories with us and thank you, John Allen, for chronicling them!
MEd, Social Development and Sexuality Consultant, Moonstone Sexuality Education and Consultation Services
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560233954
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Section I: Background
  • Chapter 1. Reflections at Four Years: A Brief History of the Rainbow Support Group
  • Chapter 2. Professional Perspectives: Observations by Support Staff
  • Section II: The Members
  • Chapter 3. Andrew
  • Chapter 4. Joe
  • Chapter 5. Ron
  • Chapter 6. Andy Loves Joe Loves Ron Loves Andy Loves Ron Loves Joe Loves Andy
  • Chapter 7. Pam and Dana
  • Chapter 8. Steven
  • Chapter 9. The Quiet Guys: Daniel, Will, Allen, Bob, and George
  • Chapter 10. Bill
  • Chapter 11. Tim
  • Chapter 12. Ben
  • Chapter 13. Lisa
  • Section III: The Leaders
  • Chapter 14. Facilitator, Maureen Thomas
  • Chapter 15. Founder, John D. Allen
  • Conclusion
  • References
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