by Flyfresno is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Rainbow Family Day Faces Challenges Amidst Declining Representation

Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s annual Rainbow Family Day took place on Saturday, June 8, featuring appearances from several LGBTQ+ organizations in Fresno. As a family-focused event, Rainbow Family Day celebrates, supports, and provides educational resources for LGBTQ+ families and their allies in the Central Valley, offering fun crafts, entertainment, local food vendors, and community booths.

Feedback from community members revealed recurring organizational issues and some key LGBTQ+ organizations were absent this year, potentially due to these problems.

Drew Harbaugh, Chapter President of PFLAG Fresno, explained their absence: “We didn’t end up participating in the Rainbow Family Day at the Zoo this year due to conflicting schedules with our volunteers.”

In 2022, attendees criticized the event for lacking inclusivity after it was moved from a weekend to a weekday. Many visitors noted low attendance and energy levels.

“By 5 p.m. there were still 817 admission tickets available for purchase online” Ashley Flowers reported for LGBTQ Fresno last year, “and at least three organizations that were tabling for the resource fair were packing up to leave or already had packed up and left.”

This year, the number of queer organizations attending was significantly smaller compared to previous years. Specifically, only four LGBTQ+ groups had booths and all were Fresno-based.

Despite having attended in the past, groups such as The Source Visalia, Trans-E-Motion, Queer Hmong Intersectional Pride, and Fresno Rainbow Pride were absent entirely.

LGBTQ Fresno, received an invitation to participate, with a financial contribution. After discussions about the free resource booths, LGBTQ Fresno was informed that the Community Partnerships team would reach out, but they did not receive any further contact.

The limited representation of LGBTQ+ organizations at Rainbow Family Day raises concerns about the zoo’s commitment to inclusivity from the community.

A community leader voiced concerns about the lack of representation: “I think they could do a much better job of making sure the organizations joining in are more than just a few queer-focused ones… I mean, there were three or four [this year], we have approximately ten in Fresno that are specifically queer and LGBTQ serving organizations.”

The toned-down representation at the event mirrored concerns from last year, notable in light of the backlash that companies like Bud Light faced for supporting the LGBTQ+ community in 2023 as well as the numerous anti-LGBTQ+ legislative bills being pitched around the U.S.

“I know that [the zoo] got a lot of issues from conservative donors [the first two years],” the community leader followed up with, “[but] now more than ever, in 2024 leading up to this awful election, we need that type of support… We understand you don’t like it, you don’t have to come, but this is queer culture, and we’re not ashamed.”


  • Ashley Cortez

    I'm currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in digital journalism at California State University, Fresno. on the side, I'm minoring in LGBTQ+ studies.

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2 thoughts on “Rainbow Family Day Faces Challenges Amidst Declining Representation”

  1. How can you be invited and then not show up and then complain about representation? Communication is a two way street. I was there, the event was lovely, family friendly, and very lively this year. A huge step up from 2023.

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