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Oakmont Rainbow Women

Local organization fosters diversity
Oakmont Rainbow Women
Oakmont Rainbow Women and friends at the 2022 Oakmont Pride Parade.Source: Oakmont Rainbow Women

By Mia Epstein

Oakmont Rainbow Women (ORW) is a lesbianfocused organization in Oakmont Village committed to fostering a lesbian community with the goals of socializing, connecting, and networking.

The welcoming of the community is every member’s favorite part of the organization. Each woman provides genuine support for one another and, as Carol Pence said, “Rainbow Women is a way to form a community within a community of like-minded people.”

Community service programs are LGBTQ+ focused, along with monthly social or educational gatherings. Musical and comedy concerts have been a highlight, featuring female artists, mostly lesbian, performing for the greater Oakmont community.

The organization began in 2011 when Sue Dibble and Jeanne De-Joseph moved to Oakmont. They hoped to create a lesbian community that did not have to simply meet in homes, as previous ones did. Dibble and DeJoseph knew they did not want to live in the closet and hoped others felt comfortable to do the same.

Visibility was important to the couple, which led to the decision to file the paperwork necessary to become a recognized organization within Oakmont. The organizers were nervous facing the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) board at its monthly meeting; however, the nerves were diminished when Dibble and DeJoseph heard the other agenda items for the meeting. Dibble and DeJoseph’s request for an official organization was heard and unanimously approved. On Aug. 10, 2011, Oakmont Rainbow Women was born.

ORW consists of around 150 members aged 56 to 92, with dif- ferent backgrounds and personal interests, allowing the club to organize an array of activities with the knowledge and experience each member contributes. Some of the groups within ORW include Hiking, Pickleball, Elders, Stock Market and Investments, Emergency Preparedness, Poker, and the Care group.

In addition to these special interest groups, group members, under the direction of Heidi Klyn from the OVA board, were instrumental in setting up the Oakmont COVID-19 program and helping people get vaccinated. This shows the diverse range of interests within the organization, and the way diversity is celebrated.

The Care group is considered “super special” because it creates a sense of comfort and compassion among the members. When someone needs short-term assistance because they are ill or are having surgery, members set up a calendar on which the women of ORW sign up to assist with tasks such as going to the grocery store, watering plants, feeding pets, getting mail, and more.

This wonderful community has drawn many women to Oakmont. Erin Carney shared, “We moved to Oakmont because of Rainbow Women.” Suzanne Dougherty added, “We did also.” There was an influx of people from the South Bay looking to retire and moved to Oakmont because of the immediate support that Rainbow Women provides.

A major event for ORW members and allies is the Pride Parade, which increases visibility and is also a day of celebration and fun.

The ORW has received positive feedback from the greater Oakmont community and, in fact, members spotted a sign that read, “Thank you, Oakmont Rainbow Women” on the parade route. Another major event held on the same day as the parade is the Pride Picnic. This celebration is a favorite among the whole community and a time for the greater Oakmont to join in.

If you would like to join ORW, email [email protected] gmail. com. Please note that you do not have to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community to join; however, you must identify as a woman and live in Oakmont.