This post is also available in: Spanish
The Dominican Republic Affirmation Chapter started an Exclusive project called the Rainbow Ark to help LGBTQ youth and young adults especially from the U.S.A. However, it’s also open to youth and young adults from other countries.
Juan C. Rodriguez (John) is the local Dominican Affirmation Chapter’s founder, President and current Director for the Rainbow Ark. His brother Carlos Rodriguez is the program coordinator, they joined the church more than 25 years ago and served in the Santo Domingo West Mission. John Rodriguez has served in almost all stake’s positions including as a former Stake high council member. He worked for 10 years for various international, cultural and work exchange organizations, helping hundreds stay in the Dominican Republic. Also, helping locals to travel abroad and immerse in many culturally exchange programs.
The Rainbow Ark is a program which assist LGBT youth and single adults who are at suicide risk, homeless, and LGBTQ. The organization mainly focuses on LGBTQ Mormons in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, and Washington State.
LGBTQ Mormon youth travel and stay with a host Dominican Family for one year (or more) attend local schools and are provided with an intensive Immersion Spanish and cultural program.
The Dominican Republic (1 hr. and 45 minutes from Miami, Florida) is a very friendly open nation whom welcomes everyone with love and understanding. There are more than 3 million Dominicans living in the U.S.A. making this community abroad politically the largest Dominican community outside of the country. There are also about 1,797,961 Americans of Dominican Descent in the United States of America. Mostly living in New York, (Little Dominican Republic area), New Jersey, South Florida, Florida, Boston, Providence, in Mass, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Among other states.
The Dominican Republic was the first Spanish settlement nation Discovered and colonized by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Since then the warm Caribbean Island has been known for being home of immigrants from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and other Caribbean smaller islands and Latin American countries. Recently the Dominican Republic (fastest economy Developing country in the Region) was ranked as the happiest nation to live in Latin America. And previously occupied the third and second place in the same ranking study. Predominantly Catholic, with a minority of Protestants (Evangelical Christians), Jehovah Witnesses (J.W), 7th day Adventists and the LDS church make most of the popular Religious affiliation groups in the island. The Dominican Republic represents one of the fastest growing population for the LDS Church and was dedicated by LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard on December 7th 1978. Operates the LDS Santo Domingo City Temple for the Dominican Republic and all other Caribbean islands.
By 2008, church surpassed more than 106.000 members and this is amazing in only 30 years, compared to the slow growth the LDS church had in many European nations where the Church has been for 100 years. There are more than 194 congregations 3 missions that meet in more than 80 church owned meeting houses throughout the country.
The Dominican Republic is also known for being culturally gay friendly despite its catholic and Christian churches active homophobic attacks to the LGBTQ community. Same sex marriage is still not legal but is common to find domestic partnerships and most population accept this as “normal” A good example of the gay friendly and open Dominican mentality is that the Pope recently removed Catholic Cardinal in the island because he was a radical Anti LGBT Religious leader and according to polls more than 70% of 10 million+ General population (mostly catholic) were not happy with the cardinal’s anti-gay remarks against the LGBT Community and especially against the appointed US open gay ambassador and his husband, the LGBT movements pro equality. Locals have gathered to support gays in the streets, politicians, and activists, people celebrated after hearing news the pope had removed the homophobic cardinal! This really shows that the DR is very pro LGBTQ! Gay suicide rate is very low in the nation.
Affirmation Dominican leaders and other members have volunteered and joined forces to rent an office for The Rainbow Ark and have started program coordination, international affiliations, coordinating hosting and arranging visa process operations for incoming participants. For young adults 18+ and older The Organization will assist in work placement and provide help with accommodation, visas and relocation assistance. They are also working on a program to help interested candidates who might not have financial resources to cover travel costs, they will be posting a URGENT HELP button on their web site (under construction) for anyone who needs help or knows someone who might need help as well as a DONATE button for donations for those candidates who need it.
More info please visit Facebook page www.facebook.com/therainbowark