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Poem: Rainbow Room

Steve Nolan, a 30-year military veteran and published poet, recently served as a peacekeeper at the inauguration of Bucks County's new Rainbow Room, where dozens of Moms for Liberty and Christian fundamentalists showed up to protest. In response, he wrote this poem about protecting LGBTQ kids.
Photo by Kevin Crawford Imagery.

I was one of several adults who volunteered as a peacekeeper to be part of a buffer zone for the inauguration of Bucks County’s new Rainbow Room where LGBTQ+ youth can meet and be together in a safe, empowering space. Moms 4 Liberty, along with a fundamentalist “Christian” group – around 30-40 people – showed up to protest outside the meeting place as teens entered. Their presence was deeply disturbing, as they showed up to protest children and made references to Satan’s work in the world, which is, of course, why they felt they needed to be there. They were an intimidating force for the children being dropped off by their parents. Peacekeepers, who created a buffer zone, held a strong and loving presence in support of the Rainbow Room and the families participating.

Rainbow Room  

In the Bible it says, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds 

and it will be the sign of the covenant between 

me and the earth.” The rainbow is the beautiful 

spectre in the sky that delights with color, the light 

after the darkness, the promise after the storm 

that danger has passed, peace has arrived, 

one can breathe calmly again. For Noah 

it meant the end of a long ordeal brought on 

by judgment and wrath to punish the wicked 

by drowning, save the righteous few 

with an early prototype of The Rapture.

My people say there is a pot of gold 

at the end of the rainbow but we never claim 

to have found it – it is just our way of saying, 

“Sorry for your troubles.”

The spectrum of color suggests the diversity of people 

ethnically, sexually, religiously, and is used for a sign 

of social change from the sclerosed views 

of our ancestors, like the guiding light 

of the Lady in the Harbor welcoming huddled 

masses into what we were once brave 

enough to call the New World – the 

alchemical melting pot of freedom 

from want and freedom from persecution.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant 

that I make between me and you and every 

living creature that is with you…”

My wife said, “Would you like to go with me 

to help protect the kids at the Rainbow Room?”

I did.

The kids slipped in the back door 

while the crowd gathered out front – 

the faithful meant no harm, they said 

they loved everyone; they were sincere 

in their belief that Satan was assaulting 

their society and must be stopped. They asked 

me to join their prayer-circle, they asked 

me if I’d been saved. They didn’t know 

that they were talking to an old soldier 

who roamed the mountains of Afghanistan 

because religious zealots were willing to martyr 

themselves against the Great Satan of America. 

The Taliban creating, at long last, 

religious nationalism – forcing women 

into back rooms and burqas, preferably 

black, the darkness before the storm, before 

the redemption promised in the colors of the rainbow.

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Picture of Steve Nolan

Steve Nolan

Steve Nolan spent 30 years in the military and 25 years as a mental health professional. He has published in numerous journals and his poetry was featured on National Public Radio, Morning Edition, upon his return from Afghanistan in 2007. He is the author of “Go Deep,” “Base Camp,” and “American Carnage, An Officer’s Duty to Warn.” His work reflects his commitment to social justice.

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