Laguna Woods Rainbow Club brings fun and diversity – Orange County Register

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By Jamie Johnson


The Rainbow Club has been a treasured part of Laguna Woods for many years. Established in 1994 by Patricia “Pat” Mayo, when the club was known as GAYLES, it sought to bring together members of the Village’s LGBTQ community. Now, for more than 28 years, that has continued to be the club’s main purpose.

“I’ve met more friends here in my seven years, probably in the first three years, than I did (in Whitter, California) in 30 years, both gay and straight,” said Robert Cunningham, club treasurer. “All the clubs have been great, but the Rainbow Club has been especially good for me, so I appreciate it.”

The Rainbow Club has around 82 members, both male and female, with many joining the club in search of a more intimate group and gatherings than the other Village clubs provide. Making connections within the gatherings is not difficult, club members say; in fact, many create friendships that go beyond the club.

Often, potential Village residents reach out to the Rainbow Club before deciding whether to move here, says club President Gregg Boyd. He believes the club brings a more diverse crowd to the community.

Boyd moved to the Village in 2017 from Dallas.

“For me the social aspect is a very important part of where you live,” he said. “I didn’t want to move to California and be on an island where you didn’t feel comfortable with your surroundings. So for me, the Rainbow Club made that an important and a successful part of moving to Orange County.”

Larry Delira also considered the club before deciding to move to the Village nine years ago from Los Angeles County.

“We did some research and realized there was a Rainbow Club, and that was actually a huge selling point for ultimately moving here, along with the community being so nice,” he said. “It was important to have some sort of connection before moving.”

Delira has held two positions on the Rainbow Club board, starting with president in 2014 and now secretary since 2020.

The club holds events large and small, from luaus and Halloween parties that bring in an average 60 people each, to weekly dinners with around 20 guests. There are also game nights and movie nights,  and catered events such as the Spring Fling and holiday parties.

“For me, one of the most exciting things is the Halloween party because you see how creative some of these people get with their costumes,” Cunningham said. “It never ceases to amaze me the ingenuity of some of these people that create great stuff. It’s a wonderful time.”

The club puts members’ privacy and wishes first, especially for those who are hesitant about being open about their sexuality.

“We don’t share the club members’ contact information because some members are very concerned about their privacy,” Boyd said. “With this senior group, it’s not the 20-year-olds that you see at the Pride events. It’s a different element.”

Recently, the club lost one of their most beloved and honored members – Joyce Aquino, who, with her wife, Diane Paar, was a crucial member and strong supporter of the club. Aquino became secretary in 2005, co-chair in 2008, president in 2009 and treasurer in 2011. In 2020, Aquino held dual leadership roles as president and treasurer but was forced to resign in May 2021 due to health reasons.

“As a fellow club officer, I had the pleasure of working closely with Joyce from 2014 until her resignation in 2021,” Delira said. “Joyce wore many hats for the Rainbow Club during her time with us, and her commitment to the club and her efforts to keep it going was without question. She will be missed.”

The city of Laguna Woods issued a Pride Proclamation in June and has committed to making that an annual part of the agenda.

Acknowledgment is an important aspect to the growing LGBTQ community when it comes to a social club that was founded on personal attributes.

“People always talk about ‘I don’t want to be defined by my gay-ness.’ Well, the fact of the matter is we’re all LGBTQ, and that’s all one common thread, and for me it’s been a means to socialize,” Boyd said. “For many, in an atmosphere of nonjudgement and being more free to be themselves – that’s the primary purpose of the club and it has worked well.”

For more information about the Rainbow Club, visit the club’s website at

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