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Hey there, friends! My name is Cassidy, and I am a founding Board Member of Project Rainbow. Today, let's delve into why Project Rainbow is an essential part of our community and why the existence of our shelter is crucial in the quest for justice and solidarity. So, grab a seat and explore why The Rainbow House is vital in our fight for equality and liberation.

As seekers of justice, we're all about challenging the status quo and dismantling systems of oppression. And let me tell you, the absence of safe spaces like The Rainbow House is a stark reminder of the discrimination faced by queer folks, particularly in West Virginia, where they're disproportionately affected by homelessness. The existing shelters in West Virginia are notoriously unkind to LGBTQ+ folks and often the providers of further harm and trauma.

Now, let's shine a spotlight on The Rainbow House. Did you know that it serves as a lifeline for LGBTQ+ individuals facing homelessness right here in our state? It's more than just a shelter; it's a community hub, offering support, resources, and a sense of belonging to those who need it most. After sitting down with many individuals in our community, it was determined that the need for an organization like Project Rainbow and a shelter like The Rainbow House would be a welcomed addition. With that knowledge, we got to work to build something to bridge the gaps in the existing system.

But here's the kicker: The Rainbow House isn't just providing temporary refuge; it's a revolutionary space of resistance and resilience. It's a beacon of hope, offering solidarity, community, and a fierce commitment to justice. The existence of Project Rainbow and The Rainbow House in a state that introduced over 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this legislative session is proof that WE take care of US. The support from the community has been overwhelming despite the political climate. We have leased, renovated, and opened The Rainbow House with exclusively donated funds. That is a HUGE deal.

West Virginia is proud to be a state that looks out for our own, but the line cannot continue to be drawn at our LGBTQ+ neighbors. We must be relentless in our pursuit of equality and liberation for all, especially those who are most marginalized. Supporting Project Rainbow isn't just an act of compassion; it's an act of social justice.

Now, let's talk about the harsh reality facing LGBTQ+ individuals. Did you know that this community is at a significantly higher risk of violence and victimization compared to those who do not identify as LGBTQ+? Queer folks who are unsheltered are left without any protection from acts of violence. I recall working with a trans woman in Morgantown, one of our more progressive locales in West Virginia. I will never forget the pain this woman shared with me after having cinder blocks thrown on her as she attempted to sleep outside while simply existing as a trans woman. As the cinder blocks were hurled at her, she was met with slurs and hatred. This woman is one of the sweetest individuals I have ever met and wouldn't hurt a fly. No one deserves to be treated this way, especially someone as kind as her.

It's a sobering reminder of why shelters like The Rainbow House are desperately needed. They provide a roof over someone's head and a shield against the dangers lurking outside. They offer protection, support, and a sense of security that can mean the difference between life and death for some of our most vulnerable community members. We hope The Rainbow House in Morgantown is the first of many in our state. Everyone deserves safety, security, and love.

We call on you to continue to rally behind Project Rainbow and ensure it has the resources and support it needs to continue its vital work. Because when we stand together in solidarity, we show the world that West Virginia is a place where everyone—regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation—can thrive. Who's ready to join the fight? 🌈✊

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