Rainbow Volunteer Paul Shows Up for Our Community

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When Paul and his husband Ben moved to Concord from San Francisco shortly after retiring, the first thing they wanted to do was “sink some roots and meet some people.”

 

“So I went online to look for places to connect with other gays,” Paul says, “and the first thing I ran across was Rainbow. I’m a joiner—I like to pitch in. And I consider myself very lucky to be a vigorous 73-year-old. I hope to be of service as long as possible.”

 

Paul has dedicated his time and talents to many organizations over the years, including over 25 years to the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park. When he found Rainbow online, he was eager to support our programs any way he could, and began attending Rainbow senior lunches a couple of Fridays each month before the lockdown.

“Paul has been a great member and contributor to Rainbow,” says Christopher Holden, Rainbow’s Older Adults Program Manager. “He and his husband Ben have always stepped up to the plate to help in any way possible. They both bring enrichment to the senior zoom lunch and other activities they join.”

 

“It’s been very rewarding,” Paul says, “because we moved away from our San Francisco communities so to find contemporaries who were interested in keeping things going, that was a real reward. And, of course, when COVID came along, those connections became even more important.”

 

Once safety precautions required pausing the in-person senior lunches, Paul was among those who stepped in to help contact our participants by phone to ensure they felt cared for and connected. He also delivered biweekly meals, and he and Ben made Christmas deliveries for Rainbow as well.

 

A former journalist, Paul’s memoir, “Never Felt Better, Looked Worse, Nor Had Less: Growing Up Off Center in the Middle West” is filled with his vivid and poignant descriptions of growing up in the Kansas City area. “My parents were very social, always playing cards,” says Paul, “and I was an impressionable kid always taking notes.” 

 

Paul has entertained the seniors at Rainbow lunches by reading chapters from his book, including the one about coming out to his father, powerfully describing the tension in the air as he waited for his father to speak: 

 

“All else was silent, except for the murmur of the radio and the nearby electric ice cream maker whirring and gushing salt water into the gravel. I cleared my throat, then took another drag on my cigarette.”

“My father was a pretty hard-shelled old-school dyed in the wool Republican,” Paul says now, “and I had thought it would be easy to come out to my mother and very difficult with my father.”  But as Paul describes in the book, his father responded by tossing him a cold beer and saying, “’The way I see it, if the others can’t accept that, well then, screw ‘em. It’s none of their dadburned bidness.’”

 

Today, Paul sees his volunteer work with Rainbow as an essential part of his week. “I honestly believe that we are called on to show up for each other, even strangers—especially strangers.”

 

We deeply appreciate Paul and our other wonderful volunteers who show up for our community! “I am grateful every day,” Paul says. “I’m the luckiest guy.”