by Maya Gold with Petwork News
“Rainbow Families represents celebration.”
That’s according to Darren Paul-Vance, executive director of the 30-year-old nonprofit Rainbow Families. Based in DC, Rainbow Families provides educational programs, professionally facilitated support groups, connections and empowerment for LGBTQ+ families and prospective parents. When the pandemic hit, the organization instantly pivoted to online events, working to keep the LGBTQ+ community connected and joyful during these isolating times. “It’s really important for our children to be around other families like theirs,” Paul-Vance says. “We have done the best we can do to provide those programs virtually.”
“We are very proud in that Rainbow Families and our family members — we really represent celebrations and a bit of a ray of sunshine, really, a ray of joy,” Paul-Vance explains. “If you’ll go to our social media, you’re not going to see a litany of depressing posts. Instead, we’re sharing photos of our beautiful families, and birthdays, and adoption stories. That has really resonated.”
As the holiday season approaches, Rainbow Families decided to stay true to its mission and celebrate its community as well. The non-profit traditionally has one big fundraising push in December. This year, they wanted to do a program that would lift up local small businesses.
The Holiday Bazaar was born.
The Rainbow Families’ website is now the Holiday Bazaar marketplace, which features 21 local businesses — and has room for more, if other independent DC artisans are interested in joining.
The Bazaar is entirely online. When customers buy from the participating organizations by following links from the Bazaar, a percentage of the profits are donated to Rainbow Families. The event starts on Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s Day.
“I’ve always wanted to support them,” says Debbie Jansen, owner of Storied Creatives and a Petworth resident. “I think it’s really important that they’re able to support LGBTQ+ families in the DC area.”
Jansen makes diorama ornaments — modern versions of the ornaments that her grandmother and mother had. Holiday markets are a crucial place to sell her art. “This is such a weird year that it’s been really great that there’s another outlet,” she said. “It’s been a really hard year for so many people, it’s a great way for those of us who live in DC to support one another.”
Joining the Holiday Bazaar as a vendor was a “No-brainer for us,” says Chris Brady, co-owner of Petworth’s award-winning Timber Pizza. “Timber Pizza is proud to support the LGBTQ community in DC and happy to be an ally in these uncertain times. We’re an open-minded and open-arms company and just happy to do our small part and be able to help.”
To support Rainbow Families and shop local, check out the Holiday Bazaar.
The Bazaar runs through New Year’s Day. For more information about the event, contact Rainbow Families' Executive Director Darren Paul-Vance.