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Rainbow Passage Stands Against Transphobia

On behalf of the Rainbow Passage Board of Directors and staff, I want to sincerely apologize to our community and all those we serve for the recent actions of our former director, Joe “Animal” Smith.

Mr. Smith has dedicated many years to activism, and we want to acknowledge his past contributions to Rainbow Passage; spending decades in the fight against AIDS/HIV discrimination, an avid street activist, and extremely passionate ally. However, we unequivocally condemn the recent transphobic rhetoric and behavior he has directed towards others.

Rainbow Passage is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals, and respect for all genders and sexual identities is a core value of our organization. Mr. Smith’s actions directly contradict this value and have caused harm to the very community we strive to support.

Let me be clear: questioning a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is not only disrespectful but also a violation of trust.  As a queer organization, we hold ourselves to a higher standard and understand the gravity of such actions. Bigotry and prejudice, in any form, further endanger the lives and well-being of transgender individuals, and Rainbow Passage will not tolerate it. The behavior Mr. Smith displayed is entirely unacceptable, not just for a director but for any member of our volunteer force.

We are concerned that Mr. Smith may attempt to contact members of our community to spread negativity towards Rainbow Passage. While we cannot dictate who you communicate with, we urge you to exercise abundant caution if he does reach out.  It is important to be mindful of those who may act in bad faith or with malicious intent, particularly towards marginalized groups.

Rainbow Passage remains committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for all. We are dedicated to fostering an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and respected.

We understand that regaining your trust takes time, and we are committed to demonstrating our values through our actions. We will continue to provide resources and support to the LGBTQ+ community and hold ourselves accountable to the high standards you expect from us.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.


Amy Nicole Check
Chairwoman, Rainbow Passage Board of Directors

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