We had the immense pleasure of hosting Rainbow Rutherford, an active LGBT community hoping to bring together people as both allies and queer people, and give people a safe space to find acceptance and support. Four of their senior members came to talk about their roles in the organization and how they work to put together events for members to meet others and find people who relate to their experience. They also keep their members informed and up to date with changes in the law that may affect gay people, especially on a local level.
Shawn Malugin, Charitey Mackenzie, Stacey Hamilton, and Annie Damico all spoke on their individual roles in the organization, and how they contribute to the future and smooth function of Rainbow Rutherford. Shawn spoke on the future of the organization, and the efforts they’ve made to keep it active, and events they’ve planned in order to grow the organization, and reach as many people as they possibly can. They possess a wonderful strength in numbers, and the community thrives from the amount of positivity and support LGBT people can find there. Charitey spoke to us on how they were founded, and the inspiration that caused them to form a group dedicated to creating a safe space from discrimination. The founding members have their share of stories about being mistreated, and what it’s like living in a community that doesn’t accept who you truly are. Their hardships became what inspired them to push for inclusion, and help those in similar situations find much needed respite. The organization has been active for about two years, and has grown to over 400 members. Stacey spoke on how the organization keeps its members informed on the effects of new legislation in Tennessee and Rutherford county on the LGBT community, and how to either support helpful bills, or speak out against bills that seek to disenfranchise and oppress the community. Rainbow Rutherford also seeks to serve as a platform for people to stay active in the fight for equality, and enables them to be heard and included in the conversation. Annie presented a personal side, one that shows the benefit of such an organization, and how it can have a positive impact on people’s lives. Annie spoke about the struggles of parenting a transgender child, and the peace she’s found with the judgement from outside sources, and how she extends the love of her child into sympathy for the community as a whole. Her story proves that this organization is built by people who have gone through the struggles that many face, but never have the chance to speak about, or fully process. Rainbow Rutherford is there to lend a helping hand, and a place to talk about strife, struggles and doubts. These wonderful people understand the position of isolation and loneliness many in the LGBT community experience, and hope to introduce people to like minded allies and queer people, to help abet that feeling.
For anyone who is looking for a platform of empowerment, and an outlet to express yourself if you find yourself not being able to openly identify as what you feel comfortable, Rainbow Rutherford is a beacon of light out at sea. The board really cares about their vision and idea, and they dedicate a tremendous amount of time to running the organization, and maintaining a positive and productive groups, to hopefully show the world that we are all human, and we all deserve the same level of respect.