Rainbow Town Hall

Rainbow Town Hall is a series of intersectional dialogues exploring topics relevant to MVPFAFF/LGBTQIA+ people, our families and communities.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024
“Queer Women in Business”

Empowered Women Empower Women. The first Rainbow Town Hall of 2024 put a spotlight on Queer Women in Business. As part of the Foundation’s commitment to Pride365 year-round programs, this networking event provided a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate diversity and form meaningful connections and collaborations. Presented in partnership with Central Pacific Bank, the gathering featured a panel discussion with business owners and leaders including Zabrina Zablan-Duvauchelle (Gay Agenda Collective), Mahina Choy (Mahina Choy Photography), Kandace Stone (Magic Hour Hawaiʻi), Talia Bongolan-Schwartz (Taliʻs Bagels & Schmear) and Susan Utsugi (Central Pacific Bank). 

Thursday, October 26, 2023
“Intersectionality: The Now of Marketing”

This  Rainbow Town Hall presented by the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation and the American Marketing Association Hawaiʻi featured Amy Benson, Haʻaheo Zablan and Micah McPharlin; individuals from different industries who shared their professional views on the concept of intersectionality, its importance in their field, and how it’s being incorporated in their marketing efforts.

The evening included pupus and beverages, a panel discussion, an audience Q&A and time for networking.

Saturday, September 16, 2023
“Connecting, Supporting and Empowering Queer Kūpuna”

MVPFAFF/LGBTQIA+ kūpuna gathered together at Ka Waiwai ma Mōʻiliʻili with friends old and new for an afternoon tea with presentations and talk story. They learned about the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundationʻs Kūpuna Project and heard from organizations and individuals who are empowering MVPFAFF/LGBTQIA+ kūpuna through education, access to resources and social opportunities.

Scheduled presenters included:

• Randy Soriano & Zabrina Zablan-Duvauchelle shared information about the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation’s Kūpuna Project and the 2023 Honolulu Pride Festival

• Marsha Tamara presented updates from the Honolulu City and County Elderly Affairs Division 2023-2027 Plan

• Aunty Kim Hāʻupu of the Waiʻanae Moku Kūpuna Council shared plans for a new community group and drop-in center, Kā Ko’o Kūpuna me nā hoa Mahu 

• Meredith Nichols from the Hawaiʻi Dept. of Human Services explained important post-COVID pandemic changes to MedQuest / Medicaid 

Representatives from groups that provide assistance and are creating intergenerational social events also attended, including, Queer Womxn Adventures in Paradise, Oʻahu Queer Hiking Group, the Sexual and Gender Minority Workgroup, the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation’s Māhūi, the Honolulu City and County Transportation Services Vision Zero Action Plan, AARP and others.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023, 10:30am
“Allyship & Inclusive Training for the Wedding and Event Industry”

The Allyship and Inclusivity Training for the Wedding and Event Industry was a transformative training designed to equip professionals with the knowledge and tools to create welcoming and inclusive environments for all. Through interactive sessions and practical guidance, participants developed a deep understanding of diverse perspectives, fostered empathy, and learned actionable strategies to ensure every couple and guest feels valued and celebrated.

Session 1: Inclusivity Training / 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
The training portion was a 1.5-hour comprehensive program covering various topics to create inclusive environments for the Wedding and Event Industry. It included sections on Understanding Inclusivity and Allyship, Barriers to Inclusivity and Allyship, Inclusive Language and Communication, Marketing to LGBTQ Couples, Historical Significance of LGBTQ+ folk in Hawaiʻi and Creating Inclusive Policies and Practices.

Session 2: Rainbow Town Hall / 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

The Rainbow Town Hall wis a dynamic Q+A session featuring industry professionals from queer-owned businesses. Participants had the opportunity to engage in open discussions, seek guidance, and gain insights from experts in the field.


Sunday, June 11, 2023, 11am – 3pm
“LGBTQIA+ KŪPUNA: Resources, Support, Friendship”

A gathering of MVPFAFF (Māhū, Vaka sa lewa lewa, Palopa, Akavaʻine, Fakaleiti, Fakafifine) and LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, allies +) kūpuna, this Rainbow Town Hall with lunch, talk story, informational presentations and an open forum on kūpuna needs took place on June 11 from 11am – 3pm at HCAP Waiʻanae.

Participants shared their views on what LGBTQIA+ kūpuna need in order to thrive in their communities in Hawaiʻi, and learned about resources in caregiving, socialization, health and social services that help LGBTQIA+ elders meet the special challenges they face.

Speakers included:
• Auntie Kim Hāʻupu | Waiʻanae Moku Kūpuna Council
• Jacob Schafer | Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
• Shanda Lewis, APRN | WCCHC Kapolei
• Val Tavai | Honolulu Community Action Program

Saturday, August 6, 2022.
“The Queer Perspective & the Future of Weddings and Events”

Join us for our next Rainbow Town Hall on August 6 at Ka Waiwai. Hear from some of Hawai’i’s premier businesses about how queer perspectives are reimagining how we celebrate our personal, professional and community bonds.

This two-part event, hosted by the Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Foundation in collaboration with the Gay Agenda Collective, will include a ticketed diversity and inclusion training workshop, and then a free panel discussion with queer business owners.

Part 1: 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Gay Agenda Collective will conduct a training that will be split into three different sessions. The first will be an introduction to inclusion and allyship. The second will be focused on identity training. Then following lunch will be the final session on how to implement allyship and inclusion in your business. The cost for this training session is $20, and you must buy a ticket in order to participate.  Limited seating.  Bento lunch will be provided.

To purchase your tickets for the workshop click here.

Part 2: 1:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Rainbow Town Hall entitled “The Queer Perspective and the Future of Weddings and Events.” The panelists will be queer business owners on island. This portion of the training will be free and open to the public. Light pupus will be provided.

With Ipo and Zabrina from the Gay Agenda Collective, Marina of Marina Choy Photography, Maurice from Ho’okipa Events and FeliCa of Spirits of Aloha Bartending.

To register for the free panel discussion, click here.

Previous Rainbow Town Hall

Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
“A Policy Forum”


What is our collective vision for a better future for Hawaiʻi and how can public policy and the people who shape it help us make that vision a reality? The June 29, 2022 Rainbow Town Hall was a conversation with 4 candidates running for office in Hawai’iʻs upcoming elections: Patrick Branco, Kim Coco Iwamoto, Adrian Tam and Tyler Dos Santos-Tam. An in-person discussion at Ka Waiwai, it was a sold out event and an evening of honest, unfiltered, and rich conversations. 

Special thanks to Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Board members Tapu, Tatiana and Haʻaheo, and to photographer Mahina Choy-Ellis.

Tuesday, April 26 at 6:30pm.
“What it means to be LGBTQ+ and in the Law”

Presented with Lambda Law Students Association / University of Hawai’i.

Our April 26 Rainbow Town Hall explored the complex intersections between the lived experiences of an LGBTQ+ person, and their professional work in Hawaiʻiʻs legal system. The webinar featured U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit law clerk D. Dangaran, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Williams S. Richardson School of Law Nicholas A. Mirkay and Deputy Solicitor General for the State of Hawaiʻi  Kalikoʻonalani Fernandes, and was presented in collaboration with the Lambda Law Students Association at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. An edit of the video from the program can be viewed our YouTube channel by clicking here. 

Sunday, April 3 at 6pm.
“An Evening with Sasha Issenberg”

Our first Rainbow Town Hall and in-person event of 2022 was a very special evening of selected readings, talk story and pau hana cocktails with Sasha Issenberg, best-selling author of “The Engagement”. A highlight of the event was Issenbergʻs conversation with Emmy Award winning filmmaker, New York Times Book of the Year author, and National Institutes of Health scientist Dean Hamer.

Issenbergʻs richly detailed narrative in “The Engagement” follows the coast-to-coast conflict through courtrooms and war rooms, bedrooms and boardrooms, to shed light on every aspect of a political and legal controversy that divided Americans like no other. Pete Buttigieg says the book “…will inform the efforts of anyone who strives for a more equal country, and touch the heart of anyone who has seen their rights come up for debate.” O: The Oprah Magazine called it among the very “Best LGBTQ Books of 2021.”
Hosted at the Kaimana Beach Hotel, it was an intimate evening with Sasha, one of the most articulate and knowledgable chroniclers of the LGBTQIA+ communityʻs fight to win marriage equality. Special guests in attendance included Sen, Chris Lee, Rep. Scott Saiki, Dr. David McEwan, Judge Daniel Foley, activist Kim Coco-Iwamoto, Kumu Brad Lum, Justice Stephen Levinson, Jack Law and many others. Special mahalo to the volunteers from Bank of Hawaiʻi for helping out.
Visit daShop to purchase your copy of “The Engagement”

2021 Rainbow Town Halls

Addressing LGBTQ+ Health Disparities

November 17, 2021

A conversation about how we can best address LGBTQ health and health disparities here in Hawai’i, from the level of medical education into everyday healthcare practice.

Hosted in partnership with the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) with panelists:

• Dee-Ann Carpenter, MD (she/her)
Associate Professor at JABSOM, in Department of Native Hawaiian Health and Office of Medical Education

• Camaron Miyamoto (he/him)
Director, UH Mānoa LGBTQ+ Center

• Scott Denny, MSPA PA-C
Provider at the Care Pathway Center at Kaiser Permanente, specializes in Infectious Disease, HIV and transgender services

• Thaddeus Pham (he/him)
Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator for the Hawai’i Department of Health in the Harm Reduction Services Branch

For more information, please contact Ian Tapu.

Above All, Love

October 24, 2021

Queerness and religion are often contentious bedfellows in the LGBTQ community. This safe space allowed panelists to examine and explore the complex relationship with, and the intersection between, spirituality and those who identify as queer.


• B. Lani Prunés is a strategist with foundations in journalism, media, and movement building lending capacity building strategic communications for policy and grassroots campaigns.

• Rev. Kyle Lovett, a clergywomen in the United Church of Christ, has served churches in Northern California and Hawai’i. Folx in Hawai’i started calling her “Chaplain to the Rainbow People” after she rallied supportive clergy to stand with people at the State Capitol during the marriage equality struggle.

• Rev. Dr. Moses D. Barrios is the newly called Senior Pastor of Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is an Ordained Roster Minister of Word and Sacrament with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and loves to teach and speak on race, diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion and rethinking church ministry.

• Rev. Blayne Higa was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai’i and is a graduate of Waiakea High School. He is currently the Resident Minister of the Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. He previously served as Assisting Minister of the Moiliili Hongwanji Buddhist Temple and as Assistant Chaplain for the Pacific Buddhist Academy in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

• Kristin Wiberg was born in Provo, Utah and raised in Pasco, Washington and Boise, Idaho. At 18, she forewent  her athletic scholarships to pursue knowledge about her indigeneity. Kristin was a full-time minister for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Michigan. Today, her ministry continues as she identifies as an active, practicing, unorthodox, queer member of the church.

• Lina Robins is a singer and musician from Wai’anae, the west side of O’ahu, Hawai’i where she was born and raised. For the past 9 years, she has been playing Hawaiian music in a trio formed by her and her cousins, ‘Uhe’uhene. They are currently working on their first album.

To learn more about the speakers, click here.


How to Start a Movement: Queer Community Organizing

October 21  / Waiwai Collective and Online. 

The internet, social media, and especially the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, have transformed how humans engage with each other.  How do these changes affect communication and relationship building?  And what does advocacy and community organizing look like during and post-pandemic?  This panel will explore these questions as well as share the ways and the lessons learned in their own advocacy and community organizing work. 

• Sarah “Mili” Milianta-Laffin teaches STE(A)M Lab at ‘Ilima Intermediate School in Ewa Beach, Hawai’i. She’s an active member of the Hawai’i State Teachers Association (HSTA), currently serving on HSTA’s State Board of Directors. In March 2021, Mili was one of 4 teachers recognized nationally by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for the 2021 Women’s History Month Celebration based on her work supporting LGBTQIA+ youth.

• Thaddeus Pham (he/him) is currently Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator for the Hawai’i State Department of Health in the Harm Reduction Services Branch. In 2018, he was recognized by the National Minority Quality Forum as a 40 Under 40 Leader in Minority Health. He is a current Bloomberg Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

• Dr. Tatiana Kalani’ōpua Young or Kumu Tati is a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi Maoli (Native Hawaiian), māhū+ (queer/transgender) healer, scholar-activist, university lecturer and community organizer.  By observing and participating in  the Pu’uhonua o Waianae community,  Dr. Young became part of a thriving indigenous queer space of spiritual abundance led by Native Hawaiian wāhine and māhū whose stories of rebellion and resilience came to transform Hawai’i’s formidable homeless crisis.

• Sarah KamakawiwoHawai’iole (MS Ed, MPH) works at Papa Ola Lōkahi (POL), the Native Hawaiian Health Board, as their Policy & Compliance Coordinator. Her educational background is in exercise science and public health, and she recently graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Though still new to many policy spaces, she hopes to work in federal, state, and local advocacy to contribute to the POL mission to uplift the well-being of the lāhui.

• Mana Shim (she/her/’o ia) is Kanaka Maoli and a 3L at William S. Richardson School of Law. She is a former player of the National Women’s Soccer League and continues her work as an advocate for other players in the league. She identifies as bisexual, is a survivor of sexual abuse, and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her passions include surfing, spending time with her dog Nalu, and talking about social justice issues.

• Izik is an award-winning performer with multiple local, national and international tours under his belt. His musical influences include Mariah Carey, The Carpenters, Amy Winehouse, Loyal Garner, Beyoncé and Frank Ocean. Izik describes his unique sound as “what would happen if Sam Smith, Teresa Bright, Solange & Maggie Rogers re-recorded ‘Lady Marmalade’.” 

To learn more about the speakers, click here.

Queer Indigeneity: Living in the Space Between

October 2  / Waiwai Collective    

What does it mean for someone to be both queer and Indigenous, and how do these and other identities intersect? Panelists will explore the role of history, colonization, culture and how that has informed their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

• Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) teacher, cultural practitioner, filmmaker and community leader. Kumu Hina is currently a cultural advisor and leader in many community affairs and civic activities, including Chair of the O’ahu Island Burial Council, which oversees the management of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains.

• Phylesha Brown-Acton (she/her) hails from the village of Fineone Hakupu Atua, Niue Island.  She identifies as Fakafifine (Niue), and she serves MVPFAFF+ people and their families globally as the Executive Director of F’INE Pasifika Aotearoa Trust.  

• Sha Merirei Ongelungel is a Micronesian (Palauan) rabble-rouser specializing in multimedia content production. She is best known for her #BeingMicronesian hashtag and its associated Twitter thread, podcast The Sha Nanigans Podcast, online radio station Native ExPat Radio, and decolonization-based webcomic Colorful & Noisier. 

• Kamakakehau Fernandez, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, was adopted as a 6 week old infant by Robyn Nae’ole and brought to the shores of Maui, Hawai’i.  He was the recipient of Hawai’i’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2013, and has since been featured in the Hawai’i LIVE Tour 2019 in the Pacific Northwest and in the Hawaiian language remake of Disney’s “MOANA” as the character “Tamatoa”.

• Lina Robins is a singer and musician from Wai’anae, the west side of O’ahu, Hawai’i where she was born and raised. For the past 9 years, she has been playing Hawaiian music in a trio formed by her and her cousins, ‘Uhe’uhene. They are currently working on their first album.

To learn more about the speakers, click here.

History and Future of HIV/AIDS in Hawai’i

October 21  / Online

Special thanks to our panelists:

Kunane Dreier; LGBT Program and Training Manager (Hawai’i Health & Harm Reduction Center)
Dr. David McEwan; pioneering HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ activist and philanthropist
Raymond Alejo; Community Liaison Nurse  (Hawai’iHealth & Harm Reduction Center)
Keleka Kaneaiakala; HIV Community Advocate  (State of Hawai’i Department of Human Services)
• Keiva Lei Cadena;
 Prevention Program Manager (Kumukahi Health + Wellness)
Dr. Jennifer Frank; family practitioner and AIDS/HIV specialist  

Thank you also to Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Board members Sandy Harjo-Livingston and Andrew Ogata for organizing this event.

View History & Future of HIV / AIDS in Hawai’i and previous Rainbow Town Hall programs by scrolling down.

Previous Rainbow Town Hall recordings available online include the May 25, 2021 Engagement Party.

Featuring an exclusive pre-release discussion with Sasha Issenberg, author of the highly anticipated new book The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle With Same-Sex Marriage.

Joining Sasha to explore Hawai’i’s early, pivotal role in marriage equality were important advocates for marriage equality in Hawai’i and the nation, including: Genora Dancel, one of the original plaintiffs; the Honorable Dan Foley, the attorney that launched the mission; Representative / Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, the politician who remained a loyal ally; and Senator Chris Lee, the political leader who became a stalwart. The discussion is moderated by Emmy award-winning filmmaker and New York Times best selling author, Dean Hamer

To learn more about our Rainbow Town Hall series, contact Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Foundation board member Sandy Harjo-Livingston.

Mahalo to Mary Krause / EmmKay Media for providing this video.

2020 Rainbow Town Halls

Also available online is the 5-part Rainbow Town Hall series produced in October 2020 in conjunction with Honolulu Pride. In that series, educators, health care providers, members of the business community and activists on the front lines discuss how to move forward on critical issues facing Hawai’i’s LGBTQIA community. Scroll down to watch the Zoom videos.

Rainbow Town Hall #1 | October 14, 2020

Kim Coco Iwamoto, Esq., Community Activist
Mandy Fernandes, Esq., Policy Director, ACLU Hawai’i
Shayna Lonoaea-Alexander, Smart Justic Field Organizer, ACLU Hawai’i
Kat Brady, Community Justice Advocate & Coordinator, Community Alliance on Prisons
Stacia Ohira, Formerly Incarcerated ACLU Hawai’i Board Member

Rainbow Town Hall #2 | October 20, 2020
Find the Way: Facilitating LGBTQIA+ Conversations in Education

Thaddeus Pham, Chairperson, Hawai’i Sexual Gender Minority Work Group
Ryan Mandado, Chief Academic Officer, DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach Public Charter School
Lord Ryan Lizardo, Program Manager for Work-based Learning, Chamber of Commerce Hawai’i
Alison Lazzara, SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) Club Advisor, Punahou School
Kim Coco Iwamoto, Esq., Community Activist

Rainbow Town Hall #3 | October 22, 2020

Winston Welch, Co-Founder, Hawai’i Rainbow Chamber of Commerce
Ari South, Owner / Designer, Ari South
Jeff Hong, Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Techmana LLC
Ryan K. Hew, Esq., Managing Partner, Hew & Bordenave (H&B)
William Chen, Founder & Culinary Director, fresh BOX

Rainbow Town Hall #4 | October 26, 2020

Dr. David McEwan, Advisory Board Member, Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Foundation
Dr. Kevin Tomita, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Tomita Psychotherapy and  Consultation, LLC
Trey Halliday Fenton, Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Certified Substance Abuse Counselor
Hao Le, President, Affirmation Hawai’i Chapter
Dr. Don “Keith” Pedro, Forensic Section Supervisor – Oahu Branch of Adult Mental Health, State of Hawai’i

Rainbow Town Hall #5 | October 28, 2020

Gary Permenter, PhD, Social Worker & Educator
Trey Halliday Fenton, Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Certified Substance Abuse Counselor
Brian Esquivel, Housing Outreach Worker, Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center
Patricio Battani, MPH, Director of Health Equity & Homeless Shleters, Waikiki Health
Wallace Engberg, Research & Planning Analyst, Partners In Care
Jonathan Berliner, Executive Director, Gregory House Programs