What does Rainbow Ball mean to you?
“It is a place with no judgment and 100% supportive.”
“Chance to meet people like me and be happy without being insulted.”
“I can be myself and be with the person I love without being scared.”
“A place to meet other people and not feel left out.”
“A place to be myself, felt at home and like I belong somewhere.”
Those are a few representative comments from high school youth who attended the 7th Annual RBW. This is the environment and outcome we strive for each and every year for the Rainbow Ball Weekend. It is hard for me to write a post that captures the fullness, intensity, openness, exhaustion, euphoria, trepidation, energy, drama, thankfulness, chaos, acceptance, sharing, and love from this year’s weekend. It’s kinda like not being able to stare at the sun or bottle a rainbow. No matter the size of the contribution, from sharing information about the weekend, to full immersion of sleeping on floor with youth to look after, to giving a workshop, every contribution mattered to someone and we, the hosts, are so grateful for the help.
Here’s a flavor of the weekend which is easier for the scientist part of me to convey. Rainbow Ball Weekend 2014 By the numbers:
225+ attendees at the Dance, 188 Total Visitors for the Weekend, 119 High School Youth and Chaperones, 40 college attendees and helpers, 35 Individual UMM Faculty & Staff who supported the weekend, 33 Discrete events (3 planned by youth at one of the attending high schools), 18 OMG Queer books donated by Bold Strokes Books that went to attending high schools, 12 Community partners (Beehive Design Collective, Down East AIDS Network, Downeast GLSEN, Eastman Studios, The Trevor Project, AMHC Sexual Assault Services, Broadway Styles, ImprovAcadia, Equality Maine, Maine Community Foundation Equity Fund, Southern Maine GLSEN, & University of Maine System Diversity Committee), 6 Meals, 6 Workshops for educators/counselors, 6 decoration making craft parties, 3 Absolutely Fabulous Drag Queens hosting the youth talent show, 2 devoted facebook groups, 1 Rainbow Ball Photo Gallery Exhibit, 1 Rainbow Ball poem, 1 work study student, 1 Unity Unicorn giant comic strip, 1 NJ reporter writing a book about the Maines Family’s journey for justice that might end with Wayne & Nicole giving the Rainbow Ball keynote address.
Photo by Christopher Dickinson