Concord council fails the LGBTQIA+ community

All the Colors Kelly FergusonCONCORD, CA (Mar. 20, 2023) — On March 7, the Concord City Council discussed and voted on the allocation of $7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to nonprofit organizations.

The Ad Hoc Committee – comprised of Mayor Laura Hoffmeister and Councilmember Dominic Aliano – proposed awards to 22 organizations. None of those funds were designated to the LGBTQIA+ community. The council rejected Rainbow Community Center’s request for $270,604 to sustain and expand our life-saving services to Concord LGBTQIA+ youth and family members.

Numerous residents spoke in person, via Zoom and in written comments about the need to rectify this exclusion. The public raised legitimate issues and questions about the Ad Hoc recommendations that went wholly unaddressed, including concerns about a highly questionable organization receiving funds, and the council’s prioritization and lack of equity in the process.

Parents of queer and trans children opened their hearts to councilmembers about how lost they were when their kids came out. They shared how they were terrified of their LGBT children’s depression, self-harming and attempts at suicide. They courageously spoke their truth and advocated for funding for Rainbow Community Center’s programming and services, which offered to them, in the words of one parent, “a lifeline” for their family.

Hoffmeister, Aliano and Councilmember Edi Birsan ignored their constituents’ testimony. Birsan proposed an ultimatum – one even he admitted was arbitrary – which he tried to force on Councilmembers Laura Nakamura and Carlyn Obringer. Birsan, impatient with their questions and comments, cut off discussion and seconded the motion Aliano raised: to accept the Ad Hoc Committee recommendations in their entirety. Collectively, these three individuals did nothing to heed the urgent call for support.

After the community waited eight months for the committee’s delayed recommendations, the council spent only 30 minutes deliberating. The events surrounding the $7 million ARPA allocation amounted to a disturbing misuse of power and profound disregard for public opinion.

Rainbow has a longstanding history of largely one-sided support for the Concord City Council. Councilmembers routinely make public appearances at our events, issue city proclamations about and to us, raise flags with us during Pride month and make various other requests at opportune times to appear inclusive.

If the council holds our work in such high regard, why did they ignore the call for a share of once-in-a-lifetime federal dollars they had at their disposal? Symbolic support is appreciated, but without actual dollars in accompaniment, it is performative allyship intended to bolster their image.

We are tired of being tokenized and marginalized by our own city government. We demand genuine allyship.

At a time of unprecedented attacks on our LGBTQIA+ youth, the Concord council missed a tremendous opportunity to make a significant impact on the mental health and wellness of our most marginalized communities. Rainbow is committed to making the councilmembers aware of their mistake to ensure that it is not made again in the future.

We are deeply grateful for the many folks who sincerely care about and show up for the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies in Concord. Please donate to support our work at

Kelly Ferguson (she/her) is the director of development at Rainbow Community Center. As a biracial femme lesbian, Ferguson is passionate about racial equity, supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and her work within the nonprofit sector. To learn more about how you can advocate for Rainbow Community Center, contact her at