A new “out, loud and proud” movement has begun in the Central Valley to assist in combating the feelings of isolation and fear so common among the LGBTQ youth. The not-for-profit Rainbow Delegation was formed this Fall with the sole purpose of providing the Queer and Questioning youth a visual presence of support.
“With all the media attention recently on the prevention of bullying, we sometimes forget that we, as a community, can also combat the problem from a proactive, positive direction,” said Matthew Mazzei, founder of the Rainbow Delegation. “We can effectively show our youth that those who support and accept them are out there in much greater numbers than they had previously thought.”
For the last few months, Matt has been distributing rainbow-colored wristbands free-of-charge to anyone and everyone wishing to wear one in order to show that they are someone safe and supportive.
“The response has been amazing,” continued Mazzei. “With the support of friends and donors, plus the utilization of Facebook, the Rainbow Delegation has been able to pass out more than 12,000 wristbands in the past three months.”
Matthew Benitez, a 17-year-old student at Sanger High School is just one of the many wearing a rainbow wristband. “Seeing nearly 200 people at my high school wearing [the rainbow wristbands] has made me feel safer being open about whom I am,” Benitez said in an online testimonial.
Word of the Rainbow Delegation is quickly spreading and now people in other cities are beginning to join the movement. The Rainbow Delegation has recently been getting requests for wristbands from as far away places as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The newly-launched group on Facebook has more than 1700 members and hundreds have uploaded photographs of themselves wearing the rainbow wristband.
Funding for the wristbands and their distribution is derived solely from generous donations. For more information on how to request a free wristband, join the facebook group or donate to the organization, please see www.RainbowDelegation.org.