Jonathan Lee, Rainbow Center

Help Rainbow continue Harvey Milk’s legacy of support

Jonathan Lee, Rainbow CenterCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Nov. 17, 2023) — I participated in a panel at Northgate High School on Oct. 16 to commemorate the history and legacy of civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

The event memorialized Milk’s 1978 debate at Northgate against Prop. 6, which sought to ban LGBTQIA+ individuals from teaching in public schools. The assembly reminded me of the work ahead due to the ebb and flow of progress and regression.

While we rejoiced in marriage equality in June 2015, we have witnessed the rise of anti-LGBTQIA+, anti-trans and anti-drag legislation across our country since 2020 – culminating this summer with Constitutionally protected “religious bigotry” when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that an Evangelical Christian web designer can legally discriminate against gay couples and refuse them service.

Anita Bryant’s war on the LBGTQIA+ communities is still alive. The Moral Majority’s attack on civil rights and the LBGTQIA+ movement for equality is just as dangerous today as it was in the 1970s. Today, they are a core part of the Republican platform and the fuel behind Moms for Liberty. The Moms are working to get people elected to school boards so they can ban books and pass policies to out our children, which may result in some un-aliving themselves if they are born into homophobic families.

For these reasons, the act of commemorating Harvey Milk is important. It is a reminder and symbol that others believe in freedom, equality and equity for all, not some. It’s a symbol of safety for queer youth. And, more importantly, it’s a powerful reminder that each one of us can be a force for social change.

Don’t give up

If you are struggling to accept yourself because you are different, I am here to tell you: Don’t give up. You are perfect, and there is nothing wrong with you.

Although you may not feel love now, you will find love in the future. Although your family may have disowned you, there is a chosen family out there, waiting for you with open arms. Come out fully or partially, or stay in the closet, it does not matter. As BIPOC queers, we do not need to live up to the expectations of dominant white mainstream queer cultural norms.

If you need help, come to the Rainbow Community Center. Since 1995, Rainbow has been ardently serving the LGBTQIA+ communities. At a time when HIV-positive people and people with AIDS were denied medical care, Rainbow advocated for them and debunked unfounded, unscientific fears about transmission.

Since this time, Rainbow has continued to be a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people of all ages and a place for the community to collectively address central issues of alienation, a byproduct of living in secret and in fear.

Similar to many non-profits and businesses, the economic difficulties of the post-COVID pandemic are hitting Rainbow hard. We share in the struggle of American families who cannot keep up with the rising costs of goods and services.

These economic hardships are made more acute for Rainbow because there is limited public funding for non-profits that serve the LGBTQIA+ communities. As a frontline LGBTQIA+ non-profit, we also compete with national/global LGBTQIA+ organizations for limited corporate funding and individual donors.

The primary source of Rainbow’s funding is public grants, but they are insufficient to cover operational costs because they are restricted to direct program services. Please, join us to help “Save Rainbow” by donating and sharing our fundraising campaign with your networks. You can also be our champion by making your donation a monthly recurring one.

Jonathan Lee is Interim Executive Director of the Rainbow Community Center. For more information, visit