Renee Perrier-Combs is a living testament to the effectiveness of the Rainbow Families biannual Family Conference.
She first attended in 2010 and was astounded such an event existed. At the next one in 2012, she and her partner of eight years, Karen Perrier-Combs, found a school for their 5-year-old daughter, Amaris, a school they were previously unaware of.
“They have great vendors there and we really got to figure out what was the best fit for our family,” Perrier-Combs says. “It’s just one of the advantages of the conference. You get such a wealth of information and there’s such camaraderie, spirit and energy there, it’s just a wonderful space.”
The 43-year-old Louisiana native came to Washington in 1990 to go to college at Howard University. She works by day as a supervisory social worker with Arlington County Department of Human Services but has been involved with Rainbow Families for three years and served on its board since last September.
This year’s Family Conference is slated for April 26 from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Georgetown Day School (4200 Davenport St., N.W.) and will feature expos, information, networking and fellowship. Comedian Judy Gold is the guest speaker. Registration ($40 for members; $50 for non-members) is available at rainbowfamiliesdc.org. This year’s theme is “Creating Our Families, Building Our Community, Celebrating Our Strength.”
Perrier-Combs lives with her family in Brookland. She enjoys spending time with her wife and daughter in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to myself in the midst of my first marriage to a wonderful man. Shortly after our divorce in 2002, I began to date women. My maternal grandmother, who raised me, was the hardest person to tell. Karen and I were on our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach when I took the call from my grandmother, who had just learned from a family friend of our marriage. Her admonishing words are forever sealed in my mind.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are three: Audre Lord, Bayard Rustin and Edith Windsor. These three individuals exemplified the essence of social justice with the sole purpose of advocating for a just and inclusive society when it was unheard of to do so.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m not into the nightlife or club scene. I prefer an evening with friends filled with good conversation, laughs and delicious food.
Describe your dream wedding.
I had my dream wedding on Sept. 22, 2013. My wife and I chose the venue of the courtyard at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters for our ceremony, followed by a fabulous reception at the renowned Sofitel Hotel in Washington, D.C. We were surrounded with so much love from our family members and our beloved community of friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I am very passionate about the inequity of wealth in the world. The gap between the haves and the have nots is getting wider.
What historical outcome would you change?
Slavery — the world is still suffering from its ramifications.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The election of President Barack Obama.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“This new show Resurrection has left my heart slain and my mind in a daze. Imagine having a deceased loved one return. Just to imagine such an occurrence has the bile of grief welling up in me. Since my beloved grandmother died, I have found myself in whispered, hopeful prayer, asking for one more moment … why did I watch this show”!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“You’re Pregnant, I’m Menopausal, That’s Crazy!,” which we fully intend to write.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would be aghast that this would be of any importance to the science world. That said, I would not stand in line for such an inoculation.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe that God dwells within us as unconditional love manifested in our daily deeds, actions, thoughts and beliefs.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The struggle continues on all fronts. We must each be diligent in keeping LGBTQ issues in the public’s eye and minds.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My daughter, Amaris. I really do “dream a world” where she can exceed her potential free from all “isms.”
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
When society seeks to attach gender roles to my family. We are both women and we equally share responsibilities in our household and relationship.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Philadelphia” and “Brokeback Mountain” because of the global message of love that belongs to everyone, not just mainstream society.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
How obsessively connected we are to our electronic devices.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
To make the New York Times bestseller list.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The only thing permanent in life is change. It would have saved me a pound of grief. As the biblical passage goes, “this too shall pass.”
I came to Washington from New Orleans to attend college. I chose to make Washington my second home because of its inclusive laws and progressive culture that validates my family.