Rainbow Families

Connecting, Supporting, & Empowering LGBTQ Families in the DMV

Keynote Speaker & Opening Remarks

Staceyann Chin

LGBTQ artist and activist Staceyann Chin delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Family Conference & Gathering. 

Staceyann Chin is a fulltime artist who was born in Jamaica and now lives in Brooklyn. She has appeared on television and radio, including The Oprah Winfrey Show , CNN, and PBS, discussing issues of race and sexuality. Staceyann Chin has been an “out poet and political activist” since 1998. From the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe to one-woman shows Off-Broadway to acting in Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe and performing in both the stage and film versions of Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People's History of the United States, to starring in the Tony nominated, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Chin credits the long list of "things she has done" to her grandmother's hard-working history and the pain of her mother's absence.  In her book, “The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir”, published in 2009, she shares her unforgettable story of triumph against all odds.

In 2011, she announced that she was pregnant by means of in-vitro fertilization with her first child, giving birth to a daughter in January 2012. 

Staceyann Chin recently wrapped up her one-woman off Broadway show “MotherStruck”, which was directed by Cynthia Nixon. “MotherStruck” sets forth Staceyann’s personal journey to motherhood as a single woman, lesbian and activist who does not have health insurance or a “serious, stable financial set up,” but wants to have a child. Told through Chin’s uniquely personal and poetic lens, this solo show explores how the process changed her life and how she makes peace with what she learns from this profound experience.

Staceyann Chin has a YouTube Channel where she shares life, parenting and love lessons; Living Room Protests are short conversations with her daughter, Zuri. Chin encourages parents to use these conversations to jump start discussions with their children, (all ages) in classrooms, or at work. The YouTube description continues, "Or just watch for cute and entertaining discussions with a radical mama and her little warrior girl."

Rob Scheer

Nationally renowned foster care advocate Rob Scheer provided opening remarks at the 2016 Family Conference & Gathering. Scheer is the founder of Comfort Cases, a charity that provides backpacks filled with basic necessities to support children in the foster care system on their journey to find a home. Scheer received national attention after his family received backlash from conservative groups when his 11 year old daughter Amaya was feature in American Girl magazine. Scheer and Amaya used the opportunity to bring attention to the challenges faced by children in foster care and the great work Comfort Cases is doing to support them.

"I remember the first day Amaya came to stay with us. She was four years old, moving into her third foster home and carrying her entire life in a white trash bag," said Scheer. "Having experienced foster care myself, I was disgusted to see a child forced to carry around their things like they were garbage. We took her out to buy new clothes and she picked out a Cinderella nightgown."

"From that moment, I knew we needed to make a change," Scheer said.

Scheer founded Comfort Cases, a non-profit organization provides backpacks with essential items like toiletries, pajamas, activities and other items for children in foster care. The charity went from providing about 300 kits in 2013 to donating 7,000 to kids in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia foster care systems last year.

Rob is an outspoken advocate for children in foster care and speaks all over the country. He was recently honored at the Family Equality Council Impact Awards in Los Angeles, Calif.

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