Ho Hum another retirement development in Sonoma County – what’s news about that!? Well – it IS news because it’s the very first LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) planned community in the WORLD!

Fitting for Sonoma County because we have considered ourselves a safe-haven for the LGBT community for decades – maybe longer.

California is known to be the first in many innovative topics – technology and environmental issues being the most well-known…but we also take pride in our social consciousness.

Part of that spills over into a higher tolerance of gender complexities. Here, we know there are not just males and females who mate with the opposite sex. Entire communities have become safe havens for people who don’t fit into the “union of a man and a woman” mind-set. But neighborhoods in cities, or towns where “tolerance” is tolerated, are not intentional communities, more ones that evolved over time.

When I walked into the grand opening evening at Fountaingrove Lodge, I was immediately introduced to Gary Gielow and Tom Shamp who are the first residents of this first community. They have been life partners for 47 years, a fact that few of my heterosexuals friends can claim, including me. I will die before I see that anniversary with Alan! And yet these two men have never been allowed to marry until now and they are considering being the first couple to marry at Fountaingrove. Why not? Now that our entire country has seen fit to allow gay marriage, there’s hope for everyone who loves someone!

So with the opening of this LGBT retirement community, there is recognition on a level that is unprecedented. THAT’s the news.

The fact that this is a luxury community – like I asked Gary and Tom – double income no kids? means that it’s high on the hills above Santa Rosa with views anyone would envy. The buildings are like a Craftsman Lodge with wood, glass and stone. It’s a stunning architectural wonder designed and built by Cindy and Bill Gallaher who take great pride in the structure…but their greatest pride is in creating a place where their clientele can relax in the company of like-minded residents. Like Cindy said in her presentation, a safe environment.

At this point Fountaingrove is 65% occupied as people begin to move in to their brand new home. Residents don’t HAVE to be LGBT, so many people who are looking at the facility are not. It’s a rather stunning example of luxury living with suites looking across broad vistas, dining rooms, a library, exercise facilities and of course, medical aid for residents who require assistance. All the bases are covered.

But in all it’s glory, I still think the most spectacular aspect of this retirement community is that it is the safe haven the Gallagher’s imagined and built. Welcome home folks. This is your place to relax and live out the golden years in comfort…and style!

By Vesta Copestakes

4210 Thomas Lake Harris Dr.

Santa Rosa 707-584-6595