May 9, 2017

Dear Reader,

To understand what The Rainbow Letters is all about, first we must go back in time... 

Austin, Texas, 1991. I was 7 years old when my parents got divorced and my dad moved in with another man. As I came to understand what this meant, I heard the disparaging way people used the word "gay" and decided to keep my mouth shut. My family was loving and amicable, but I felt anxious and confused because I knew we were different. 

Things changed when, at 12 years old, my best friend's mom came out as a lesbian. Suddenly I had a true ally! Even more shockingly, her father and my mother, the two straight parents, started dating. Suddenly we got to watch Dawson's Creek together every week! I guess dreams do come true :) When we were 16 years old, our parents got married and we became sisters. Between our married parents, our gay parents, and all the kids, somehow our blended family ended up feeling like a Big Gay Jewish Brady Bunch. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns for everyone, of course, but life had taken a magical twist, indeed, and I didn't feel lonely anymore. In fact, by the time I went off to college, my alternative family was the single thing about my life I was most proud of.

Throughout this journey, I’ve found myself feeling inspired, intrigued, and connected when I’ve met others who have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) parents. I've always wondered how this part of my identity has shaped me as an individual, how it has shaped others, and how exploring it together may somehow shape the world.

For many years I attempted to write about my family's story, but something felt missing. When I met the family equality activist Zach Wahls in 2013, I realized that what had been missing for me, as in my childhood, was a sense of community. Together, we started The Rainbow Letters to hear the unspoken stories of our peers and connect an invisible tribe within the LGBTQ community. 

This project started as an invitation for people with LGBTQ parents, like us, to tell their stories. Now, we are accepting letters written by anyone from the LGBTQ community around the topic of family. This project is intended to help as many people as possible express themselves and feel seen, heard and valued by their peers and society at large. 

Write a letter. Tell your story. Come out! Let’s be courageous, get to know ourselves and each other better, and help the world grow a bigger, warmer heart.

With Love and Respect,

Julia Winston