In the wake of a tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate which is sweeping our nation, I want to share with you what has been giving me hope.
For the last 3 months, we have been working at Foothills behind the scenes to launch what we are calling “Rainbow Villages.” Rainbow Villages creates sanctuary and support for transgender and nonbinary people and their families who are seeking a safe haven away from states with anti-trans laws.
In a recent Data For Progress survey, it was alarming to learn that hundreds of thousands of transgender individuals have already left their home states, and over a million more are considering doing the same in the coming months. Many are in need of active support from wider communities to make their relocation possible. That’s where Rainbow Villages come in.
In May of this year, we here at Foothills were contacted by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an organization founded in WWII to help Jews and other persecuted people escape occupied Europe, to aid in an underground effort to assist Trans and Nonbinary people and their families who were relocating to Colorado to find sanctuary.
The ask was big: find free housing for 3 months, build a support system for jobs, medical care, and other related life needs, and build a community of care and connection for those who would settle here in Northern Colorado. An amazing group of humans from Foothills not only said yes to the challenge, but two families in our congregation opened their homes and have made it possible for us to welcome and support two people who have already joined us here in Northern Colorado.
With so many more individuals and families seeking refuge in Northern Colorado, Rainbow Villages needs to expand. We will welcome more families locally, and Rev. Sean is working with three other congregations to develop their own Rainbow Villages. We take up this work because we believe in unleashing courageous love and providing a safe space under the rainbow. And now we need your help to make sanctuary a reality for as many people as possible.
Here are three important ways you can get involved in this critical work:
1. Get Involved as Part of the Rainbow Village Crew: We are looking for people like you to be part of a village of support. We need hosts to offer space in their homes, and we need volunteers to provide support in navigating government programs, accessing healthcare, finding employment, and establishing social connections. By joining forces, we can provide a warm and welcoming community for those settling in our area.
2. Give Money to Support Rainbow Villages: Our effort to support our new neighbors requires financial resources. Your generous contribution will help us address the practical needs of those seeking sanctuary, respond to their immediate needs, and set them up for success in their new lives. We’re also seeking a significant donation of $30,000 to rent a house and support a family moving here. Your contribution, no matter the amount, will make a meaningful impact and allow us to continue this vital work.
3. Lean into Your Own Discomfort: It’s essential to recognize that many trans individuals live in discomfort and even unsafe environments daily. Despite not fully understanding all the terms and complexities of gender and maybe sometimes not knowing what to say, we urge you to lean into your discomfort and step in and support these individuals anyway. A great resource to help build your competency and understanding is “Beyond the Gender Binary” by Alok Vaid-Menon.
Thank you for considering these calls to action. Together, we can make a difference and create a safe and inclusive space for those in need of a new home. Together, we can further the work of liberation.
With deep appreciation and hope,
Rev. Sean Neil-Barron