The Rainbow Service Organization was founded in 1993 by a group of men and women concerned by a lack of services for lesbian gay and bisexuals in the four counties of Peterborough, Haliburton, Victoria and Northumberland in Ontario, Canada.
The first two years of Rainbow existence was governed by an ad hoc committee. Funds were raised by dances and other fundraising events. One of the first things that was done was to produce, distribute and analyze a needs assessment survey. From the results of that survey, a steering committee was established to develop a strategic plan.
Resolution of internal disputes led to the establishment of three fundamental questions to assist us in setting our priorities:
- What sort of organization are we to be?
- How do we define inclusively without alienating large parts of the community?
- How do we accommodate everybody’s point of view?
The answers to these questions led to the creation of a constitution and a set of formalized policies and procedures that were adopted by the steering committee.
In 1996-1997 we faced an ever-growing problem of finances. Our grant application to The Trillium Foundation was turned down on the basis that RSO did not represent an underprivileged group. To combat this economic crunch we partnered with a new local bar in March of 1997. This partnership provided a stable source of income through provision of an overhead-free venue in which to hold our dances, a large source of our revenue.
Dances then moved to the Gordon Best Theatre and in 2003 we discontinued our relationship with that venue. More recently we have sourced revenue from memberships, smaller events, and City of Peterborough Grants.
We continue to explore other partnerships with like minded organizations including Peterborough AIDS Resource Network (PARN), Rainbow Youth Coalition, Trent Queer Collective, Fleming Association of Queer Students and Supporters, Centre for Gender and Social Justice, and OPIRG Peterborough.
On February 15th, 2007 RSO officially became a non-profit Corporation.
Our programs and social events are expanding and we play a major role in organizing the Peterborough Pride celebrations. We continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with other groups in the community.