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Safe, accepting haven in Hingham

Linden Ponds Equality Group promotes openness

Created date

March 22nd, 2011

Barbara and Ron Boucher discovered the Linden Ponds Equality Group nearly four years ago during a visit to the community. The couple spotted a flier advertising the group, which celebrates diversity and equality. "That was a big part of our final decision to come here," Mr. Boucher says of the Equality Group. "That group being here told us that there was an openness. We knew then that we had found a place we could really call home a place where everyone would be treated with dignity and respect." The couple moved to Linden Ponds from Reading, Mass., in September 2007. Soon after, one of Linden Ponds community resource coordinators introduced them to one of the two pioneer residents who had founded the group two years before, in the hope that all residents feel accepted, welcomed, and have a safe space to be their own true selves. The Bouchers immediately embraced the group.

Support systems

Openness had long been a guiding principle for the Bouchers, who are the parents of a gay son and have been active members of Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) for many years. PFLAG supports the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families, and friends. As a member of the PFLAG Speakers Bureau, Mr. Boucher visits high schools in the Greater Boston area to speak with students and tell his son s story. After reading one of their son's poems years ago, the Bouchers were shocked to realize their son had suffered so much in high school that he had considered suicide and his parents didn't have a clue. "It's aloneness, it's thinking that you're some kind of a weirdo or something. It's very, very difficult for these kids," Mr. Boucher says. While today's high schools have greater support systems in place, the Bouchers remain dedicated to PFLAG, which Mr. Boucher says has changed their life by introducing them to many wonderful people.

Getting involved

The Bouchers decided to get involved at Linden Ponds while continuing their off-campus interests with PFLAG. It wasn't long before they became the coleaders of the Linden Ponds Equality Group. The group has 20 members, of which six to eight core members meet monthly for discussion and event planning. They participate in the annual activities fairs at Linden Ponds, where they display information about their group, one of about 150 interest groups in the community. The equality group has sponsored a sellout concert by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus and a concert by The Mood Swings, an all-women swing band Mr. Boucher says they had residents dancing in the aisles.

Each June, Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, the equality group sets up a window display in the Oakleaf Creative Arts Studio. "I see the people here at Linden Ponds and they're so with it; they're up on a lot of things. They're into computers and the Internet," Mr. Boucher says. "We're not stereotypical seniors; we're very active people with very diverse backgrounds and interests." The Bouchers are also regular folk dancers and leaders of the Savoyards, a Linden Ponds group that shows Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera videos in the community's performing arts center. Mr. Boucher is treasurer of the Macintosh Computer Users Group and Mrs. Boucher enjoys line dancing. "This is a wonderful lifestyle," Mr. Boucher adds.