The world can still be a rough place at times for children of LGBT couples. Seeing they’re not alone is one of the main goals of the Rainbow Families Conference, slated for Saturday.
“I think it’s invaluable for kids growing up to see themselves reflected in the people surrounding them and to not feel “othered” by their immediate community,” says Rainbow Families board member Signey Olson. “Positive representation and celebration of this aspect of our lives gives the children in our community role models as well as peer groups that may have grown up with certain shared experiences, which affirms their own truths.”
About 200 adults and 75 kids are registered for the conference, to be held all day Saturday at Georgetown Day High School (4200 Davenport St., N.W.). There are about 280 families in Rainbow Families. The conference offers networking, interaction with experts, workshops on various aspects of LGBT parenting and family planning, keynote speeches from elected officials Danica Roem and Rich Madaleno and all-day activities for children.
“LGBTQ-plus families often have many unique circumstances that aren’t reflected in much of the rest of society,” Olson, a 28-year-old Eau Claire, Wis., native, says. “For many, it’s relieving to be able to connect and build community with other families who have shared experiences.
It’s a big weekend for LGBT family events. They’re unrelated, but Sunday is Gay Day at the Zoo and International Family Equality Day. Full details on Rainbow Families at rainbowfamiliesdc.org.
Olson works in queer fertility so when she heard about Rainbow Families, joining a year and a half ago was “an obvious choice,” she says. She’s halfway through her two-year board term.
Olson, a nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife, came to the D.C. area seven years ago after a brief stint here in college. She grew up in Wisconsin on a 300-acre Christmas tree farm.
She and partner Katie DePalma (“only fur babies right now”) live in Takoma Park, Md. Olson enjoys hiking with their dog, Linus, studying medicinal herbs and “trying to keep our potted plants from dying” in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Coming out was a long and gradual process for me, certainly not a sudden big reveal. My identity labels shifted considerably throughout the years, so I think ultimately the hardest person to tell was myself.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
One of my favorite queeros would be the fabulous comic Cameron Esposito (who coined the term queero).
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Walking along the Wharf at night.
Describe your dream wedding.
When I was growing up, my best friend and I planned to have a dual wedding with our respective (at the time male) partners, barefoot somewhere in the Irish countryside. Little did we know when we were planning, that years later we would both come out less than two months apart. Our planning skills were clearly top-notch, we were just wildly wrong about the gender of our partners.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Access to the complete spectrum of reproductive health care.
What historical outcome would you change?
The entire history of colonialization.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Bon Iver winning a Grammy.
On what do you insist?
Increased awareness around consent in the health care setting.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
An image of 10 concrete ways to actively reject white privilege as a white person.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Little Did I Know…”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Find a way to fund a research study to refute their conclusion.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Kitten memes as a form of self-care.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
We need to center the most marginalized voices if we’re going to progress forward and it’s important to acknowledge and be open to when your privilege is preventing progress. And how most effectively to “call in” our community members to work as a team.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Being able to pet cute dogs, any time, any amount of hot coals.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I work as a health care provider in fertility so I would say the idea that masculine-of-center folks never want to conceive or carry a pregnancy-so not true.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I know it’s cliché, but “Rent” was one of the most influential LGBTQ movies I saw at a young age.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My partner is also a midwife so I would have to say my trophy (mid)wife.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
It’s totally OK and healthy to not be able to please everyone. Additionally, conveying that while the fight for marriage equality seems like the most important (and romantic) issue right now, it won’t be until later on that you realize the deeper importance of intersectionality and how the fight against racism is going to be the most important and pervasive issue to address.
While sometimes I think Washington goes a bit heavy on the over-glorification of a busy lifestyle, I know I’m attracted to the city in large part for the never-ending stream of events and ways to be engaged with my community.