What is a "Community Pioneer?"
In 2003, Rainbow History Project established the Community Pioneer Award to recognize people whose contributions to LGBTQ communities of greater metropolitan Washington DC merited special commendation. The recipients of this award are chosen for their pioneering work to establish the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities of today's DMV.
Our LGBTQ community is an amalgam of many communities and identities. Some of our institutions seek to serve the entire LGBTQ community, but most focus explicitly on smaller, affinity-based communities. As a whole it encompasses diversity of genders, races, ages, classes, incomes and wealth, social and physical geographies, spiritualities, sexualities, educational backgrounds, personal interests, and gender expressions.
All LGBTQ institutions contribute to our overall well-being. They work tirelessly to change the shape of the law, health care, social and personal services available to the general public in order to make them more attentive to LGBTQ needs. Tens of thousands of individuals have contributed to these myriad accomplishments.
How, then, does the Rainbow History Project recognize a mere handful of individuals for special commendation on behalf of our local LGBTQ communities?
We start by reaching out to all of our supporters – not just board members and volunteers, but also our advisory board, existing Community Pioneers, and the hundreds of members who participate in our activities – asking them to submit nominations, with a brief statement of support.
Since we are such a diverse community, no RHP member could personally know all the nominees and in some cases there are nominees that none of the current members know at all. Thus, we conduct research in our own collections, but we also record oral histories of nominees to expand the documentation of their efforts on our behalf.
Volunteers and members summarize the information, present it for feedback and selection, and publish the announcements to our site, and then honor the new Community Pioneers at our awards reception.