by Justin Kamimoto
“It’s you, it’s me, it’s everyone who is taking a stand showing that they are supportive of the LGBT community.” – Matt Mazzei (in regards to the Rainbow Delegation campaign)
The Rainbow Delegation was started in August of 2010 by a man named Matt Mazzei. Mazzei, founder of the Rainbow Delegation, like others, had a dream of creating support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; a community which he proudly identifies as part of today. Six months later, the Rainbow Delegation is now known as a popular movement across the Central Valley, and has expanded its presence world wide.
This “instant success” did not just come overnight, though. Starting off as an idea of support between twelve close friends of Mazzei, the popularity buzz went to more and more friends, and friends of friends, wanting to wear a wristband. Mazzei continued to order more wristbands as a fun and easy way to show support of the LGBT community. At that moment Mazzei made the decision to start a movement and keep the momentum of support going across the country. The popularity boom launched the rainbow wristband phenomena into the eyes of individuals, young and old, and of various races and sexual orientations.
If you are not familiar with the Rainbow Delegation, their main purpose is to identify supporters of the LGBT community within the areas we live in. By simply wearing a Rainbow Delegation wristband, you are identified as a visual supporter in a subtle, yet powerful way that displays acceptance of all people. A false theory that some have in regards to wearing a rainbow wristband is that you are automatically identified as an LGBT individual—that is not the case in the Rainbow Delegation campaign. When you wear a wristband, it shows that you are a safe and supportive individual who gay youth can approach. Every wristband has been given free of charge, including free shipping to anywhere in the world. To anyone who would like to participate in the campaign, Mazzei makes the promise to get you a rainbow wristband.
If you do not have a rainbow wristband, get one today! The process of obtaining a wristband is fairly simple. By logging onto the Rainbow Delegation website you can submit an order to Mazzei himself via email. Most requests come from the Rainbow Delegation’s
Facebook page, which is “awesome for spreading the word” said Mazzei. After your order has been processed, within a few days you will receive your wristband in the mail. If it takes a week, it is understandable when you see who the Delegation team is: Matt Mazzei, himself.
The Rainbow Delegation is very grassroots, not a large organization. It consists of everyday people connected through the campaign itself. With every interaction to the Delegation, Mazzei himself will give you a response, and that is the way the organization will stay.
Today, more than 18,000 rainbow wristbands have been distributed not only to the Central California region, but to every continent except Antarctica and South America. Mazzei stated that just a couple days ago wristbands were being shipped to Africa!
Here in the Central Valley rainbow wristbands are distributed in a variety of ways, through a variety of organizations. Gay Straight Alliance’s, church communities, LGBT organizations, and even organizations that are not LGBT focused, wear wristbands proudly. Even as I interviewed Mazzei at a local Starbucks, a boy came in and was wearing a wristband. You can easily tell Mazzei beams with pride and admiration that his small concept has made its influence around the Central Valley.
Now you have to wonder who is Matt Mazzei, the wonder behind such a great campaign movement. Only 27 years young and a Fresno native, Mazzei is a graduate student from the music department at California State University Fresno pursuing a Masters in Violin Performance. I consider him an “expert” violinist, with 17 years of experience. He is a concertmaster at the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and is contracted by the Fresno Philharmonic as a violinist. Aside from the Rainbow Delegation, you can find Mazzei with boyfriend, Eli, enjoying the wonders that life is sending their way.
“The Rainbow Delegation campaign has positively consumed my life, but I am fortunate enough to be helping the community in a positive way,” remarked Mazzei about his day to day lifestyle. Exhausting, but definitely rewarding, his schedule consists of fulfilling requests for wristbands; packing, shipping and the process starts over again when new orders come in.
You would think that with a well known LGBT friendly movement, Mazzei would consider himself a gay activist. Not the case with this guy! Seeing himself as “the guy that passes out wristbands,” Mazzei stays humble to his roots; he saw a cause and provided the action. As a growing figure in the Fresno/Clovis area, though, Mazzei has had a few celebrity moments with participants of the movement, and those who proudly wear their wristband automatically strike a connection.
The response to the Rainbow Delegation has been phenomenal. No hate mail and no derogatory comments have made their way to Mazzei; only pride and joy have touched Mazzei and the Rainbow Delegation. During my interview with him, he shared an email he received from a supporter in Salt Lake City. Their story goes like this… “My boyfriend wears a wristband and there is an amazing story to go along with it. He wore [his wristband] to work one day, and a mom and her 15 year old son, who had just come out, were shopping there. Her son was suicidal, and was having a rough time with everything. She came up to [my boyfriend] the other day and gave him a big hug. When her son saw the wristband, he realized there was a happier tomorrow, and that everything would be alright someday. I love these wristbands, and this organization.”
The final question I asked Mazzei is where he sees the Rainbow Delegation in the future. His primary end goal is to have every single person who is supportive to have a wristband to wear. Everyone who wants one will get one. Bumper stickers are available to show support on your vehicles, and posters are available to download from the Rainbow Delegation website. Print a poster and put them up for everyone to see!
Funding of the campaign is a challenge, so to keep the movement going, there are ways people can help out the Rainbow Delegation. Monetary donations are always accepted but the donation of supplies are also appreciated. Mazzei uses: envelopes of any size, packing and scotch tape, boxes, and most importantly postage stamps in the increments of $.17, $.44 and $.64. There is a P.O. Box link on the website and you can always email him for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help keep this great support system going, for you, for me, and for anyone out there that is looking for the support to know that tomorrow will be a better day.
Learn more about the Rainbow Delegation on their website.