SIGN OF RAINBOW was a club for deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the LGBTQ community in Cleveland that operated from 1993 to 1997. Meetings were held regularly at the LESBIAN/GAY COMMUNITY SERVICE CENTER OF GREATER CLEVELAND at 1418 W. 29th Street and members’ houses. Sign of Rainbow also published a semi-regular newsletter where members could express themselves through art, advertise events, and share their thoughts and experiences concerning the LGBTQ community and the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Outside of regular club meetings, Sign of Rainbow regularly hosted social gatherings. Events included picnics, potlucks, and Christmas parties, which created spaces for deaf and hard of hearing people in the LGBTQ community to gather and share their experiences. Additionally, the organization sought to create spaces and opportunities for socializing that did not involve bars or alcohol, marking a shift away from the reliance on gay bars as gathering places for LGBTQ people in the years that open spaces like the Lesbian/Gay Community Service Center were not available.
Although the organization was centered around deaf and hard of hearing members of Cleveland’s LGBTQ community, it welcomed hearing members and straight members. Members bonded through their shared connections to the LGBTQ community and the deaf and hard of hearing community. Members were also united in their pride in practicing sign language, which expert members worked to teach to new members and those less familiar with the language.
Sign of Rainbow is one example of an organization that formed in order to address the specific needs and experiences of a community within the LGBTQ community. The organization created spaces for LGBTQ, deaf, and hard of hearing people in Cleveland to express themselves, socialize, and share their experiences with both communities.