Apr 04, 2023

Firehouse Art Center holds Project Rainbow Love youth event to celebrate Pride Month

At Project Rainbow Love, Longmont-area LGBTQ youth, their families and allies gathered at the Firehouse Art Center to kick off Pride Month with joy.

Dozens of participants filled the gallery spaces of downtown Longmont's Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Ave., for the celebration on Saturday. From group discussions to individual art projects, the inaugural Project Rainbow Love event aimed to provide an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone.

"I can be open about who I am as a person, and I’m just happy to be here," shared one participant who did not disclose their name.

Longmont resident Lara Rutledge coordinated Project Rainbow Love through the Colorado Art Therapy Association. "I love working with youth, so we wanted to create an event that could really promote LGBTQ youth here," she said.

Many event visitors sat down at tables for Pride-themed arts and crafts activities, including designing postcards and pottery. Upstairs, they could view an exhibit of wooden stars painted to honor victims of the Club Q nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs last year.

"Art therapy is really powerful," Rutledge said. "It's sort of this way of expressing yourself without maybe having words, so you can put how you’re feeling into a work of art. That, then, can be a way to begin to tell your story or share your identity."

A small group of kids, teens and adults joined a panel discussion co-moderated by Victoria Giles-Vazquez with Envision: You, an LGBTQ behavioral health organization based in Colorado. The discussion's theme was "taboo topics," which Giles-Vazquez said led to engaging conversations about oppression, white privilege and the intersection of various identities.

"It was our hope to just amplify the voices of who's here," she said. "Everyone was really respectful."

Rainy weather on Saturday prevented one of the planned activities: a collaborative mural project led by Denver artist Koko Bayer. Bayer will return to Longmont at a later date to paint the mural — a rainbow-colored heart with "love" written in the middle — on an alley wall near the Firehouse Art Center.

Everyone who came to Project Rainbow Love will be invited to help Bayer with the mural on a day with cooperative weather. In substitution for the project on Saturday, participants went outside to blow bubbles in the rain and draw with chalk on the walls and sidewalks surrounding the center.

The afternoon closed with the Pride Power Printing Party, a screen-printing workshop where participants chose LGBTQ-related designs to ink onto tote bags and T-shirts. Purchases of the shirts and bags went toward Slay the Runway, a fashion design camp for teens run by the Firehouse Art Center.

Elaine Waterman, executive director of the Firehouse Art Center, said Saturday's turnout was "perfect" for intimate, vulnerable conversations and for connecting participants with positive LGBTQ individuals in the community.

"Our larger vision is making Longmont a more creative, colorful and empathetic space," she said. "And with sharing comes understanding."

Sign up for email newsletters

Follow Us