Rainbow Town Hall

Rainbow Town Hall is an ongoing virtual panel discussion series exploring important issues affecting LGBTQIA+ people and Hawaii’s larger diverse communities. 

The series will continue in October, 2021 — Honolulu Pride Month — as hybrid in-person / virtual events. For more information, contact Ian Tapu.

Queer Indigeneity: Living in the Space Between

October 2  / 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m / Waiwai Collective    REGISTER HERE.
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, and community leader. Born in the Nu’uanu District of O’ahu, Kumu Hina was educated at Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii. She was a founding member of Kulia Na Mamo, a community organization established to improve the quality of life for māhū wahine (transgender women), and served for 13 years as the Director of Culture at a Honolulu public charter school dedicated to using native Hawaiian culture, history, and education as tools for developing and empowering the next generation of warrior scholars. 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. In 2014, Hina announced her bid for a position on the board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, one of the first transgender candidates to run for statewide political office in the United States.

Phylesha Brown-Acton (she/her) hails from the village of Fineone Hakupu Atua, Niue Island.  She identifies as Fakafifine (Niue).  She serves MVPFAFF+ people and their families globally. She is the Executive Director of F’INE Pasifika Aotearoa Trust.  F’INE is part of the Pasifika Whānau Ora Collective. Phylesha’s primary role is to support F’INE staff to serve MVPFAFF+ people and their families in achieving self-determined aspirations of well-being by providing navigation support and services. Her work over two decades has been to challenge rhetoric and oppressive systems and policies that minimise or invisibilise her communities and people.


Sha Merirei Ongelungel is a Micronesian (Palauan) rabble-rouser specializing in multimedia content production. Her childhood was spent surrounded by activists, including her parents, who fought against the American imperialism and militarization of Indigenous lands. She strives to uphold those same values that guided her parents and mentors through her work with IEN, as well as through her personal activism. She has dedicated the past two decades to cultivating her multimedia-based skill set in order to educate and raise awareness on issues affecting BIPOC communities and throughout Pasifika. 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). 

If anyone could be described as having “Hawaiian heart & soul,” it is Kamakakehau Fernandez.  Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, this 6 week old infant was adopted by Robyn Nae’ole and brought to the shores of Maui, Hawaii.  He is a graduate of the Hawaiian language immersion program Kula Kaiapuni and is a proud Hawaiian language speaker.  Kamakakehau became enamoured with the ‘ukulele and leo ki’eki’e (falsetto) singing.  In 2003, he won his 1st falsetto singing competition which later propelled him into winning Hawai’i’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2013.  Kamakakehau has since been featured in the Hawai’i LIVE Tour 2019 in the Pacific Northwest and also featured in the Hawaiian language remake of Disney’s “MOANA” as the character “Tamatoa” and continues to have a strong presence in Hawai’i, the continental states and Japan.


Lina Robins is a singer and musician from Wai‘anae, the west side of O‘ahu, Hawai’i where she was born and raised. She hails from a long line of musicians, songwriters and Hula dancers. She grew up singing Hawaiian music at the age of 2, inspired by her dad, who introduced her to R&B, Soul, Jazz, Pop and Rock and Roll, he is the reason for her passion for music. Lina plays the ‘ukulele, guitar and bass and has been performing professionally for just over 10 years now. One of her proudest moments was being on the Oprah Show at age 12 with one of her heroes, Mariah Carey. 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. As a solo, Lina performs a mixture of RnB, Pop & Gospel and brings a soulful lift to Hawaiian and Island music. She is also working on her own music to be released.

Above All, Love

October 24 /  4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. / Calvary by the Sea
Queerness and religion are often contentious bedfellows in the LGBTQ community. This safe space will allow for panelists to examine and explore their relationship and intersection between sexual identity, gender expression, and spirituality.


Listening to Our Future

Statistics from the Hawaii State Department of Health demonstrate that Hawaii’s queer youth face many health and social inequities. Despite the alarming data, our youth continue to exhibit resiliency. In this Rainbow Town Hall, our youth panelists, led by a youth moderator, will share their experiences of what it means to live authentically in their generation and how they have navigated through school, extracurriculars, family, and friends.


Queer Organizing: How to Start a Movement

The internet, social media, and especially the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, have transformed how humans engage with each other. This panel will break down how they have utilized the digital space in their own community engagement work.

Mahalo to everyone who joined our June 17, 2021 Rainbow Town Hall History and Future of HIV/AIDS in Hawaii. Special thanks to our panelists:

Kunane Dreier; LGBT Program and Training Manager (Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center)
Dr. David McEwan; pioneering HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ activist and philanthropist
Raymond Alejo; Community Liaison Nurse  (Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center)
Keleka Kaneaiakala; HIV Community Advocate  (State of Hawaii 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 Hawaii LGBT Legacy Board members Sandy Livingston and Andrew Ogata for organizing this event.

View History & Future of HIV / AIDS in Hawaii 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 Hawaii’s early, pivotal role in marriage equality were important advocates for marriage equality in Hawaii 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 Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation board member Sandy Livingston.

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

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 Hawaii’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 Hawaii
Shayna Lonoaea-Alexander, Smart Justic Field Organizer, ACLU Hawaii
Kat Brady, Community Justice Advocate & Coordinator, Community Alliance on Prisons
Stacia Ohira, Formerly Incarcerated ACLU Hawaii Board Member

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

Thaddeus Pham, Chairperson, Hawaii 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 Hawaii
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, Hawaii 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 #5 | October 26, 2020

Dr. David McEwan, Advisory Board Member, Hawaii 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 Hawaii Chapter
Dr. Don “Keith” Pedro, Forensic Section Supervisor – Oahu Branch of Adult Mental Health, State of Hawaii

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, Hawaii 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