El Roberts-Wright, a 20-year-old queer woman from the U.K., is spreading holiday cheer with the Rainbow Cards Project, which sends Christmas cards to LGBTQ people who've been rejected by their families.
In an interview with Pink News, Roberts-Wright went into detail about how her project got started and what motivates her to keep going.
Roberts-Wright’s effort began in 2016 when she tweeted that she would send cards out during the holiday season to people who had been disowned by their families after coming out. The idea reached a lot more people than she expected, and Roberts-Wright ended up sending 30 cards to people in nine different countries, the following year she set up the Rainbow Cards Project to be crowdfunded. She has since sent thousands of cards.
When asked about her inspiration. Roberts-Wrights told Pink News. “Earlier that year I had also come out to my parents and my extended family, so as I was thinking about sending them cards. I imagined what it would be like to have no one to write cards to, and no cards turning up in my letterbox. … I wanted to do what I could to support any LGBTQ+ people who might be in that situation, and hopefully reaffirm to them that the LGBTQ+ community is a family in itself.”
“My aim for this project is pretty simple: to combat isolation in the LGBTQ+ community through simple acts of kindness and remind people that they are loved and not alone,” she continued. “I know I can never replace someone’s relatives, but I can reach out with a little kindness and help them feel like a part of a bigger family. I hope each card someone receives helps prove to the recipient that they are loved and they see that someone out there cares enough to write to them, and that in turn lessens the isolation they feel and helps them feel proud of who they are.”
Roberts-Wright said the response to the project has been wonderful, with over 100 people signing up within a few days of launching the website; now the number has grown to well over 420 recipients. The project has sent 4,000 cards in total. Recipients sign up on the website, and everyone who signs up will receive a card in the mail.
She added that the Rainbow Cards Project helps people outside the community understand the isolation some LGBTQ people face.
“I think just hearing about what this project does is making people aware of one of the many struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community,” she told Pink News. “I’ve had LGBTQ+ people share their struggles on our fundraisers or Twitter page to highlight why this project is necessary, so it has become a bit of a platform to have these discussions about isolation. But more important than highlighting the isolation faced by LGBTQ+ people is addressing that isolation in a tangible way, rather than just discussing it, and I think that’s what this project is doing.”
“This project offers a way for those who are feeling isolated to reach out and ask for support, and for those able to offer support to offer it in a physical way that ends up in the hands of the person who needs it,” she concluded. “Now, whenever that person is feeling isolated, they can take out the cards they’ve received and read the messages of support and solidarity and know that they are not alone.”