Proving My Point: The East Tennessee Rainbow Mafia Responds
In a recent post, entitled East Tennessee’s Rainbow Mafia, I commented on the LGBTQ community’s tendency to vilify critics of “all ages” drag shows, using as an example a retaliation campaign promoted on the Facebook page of a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy organization in Maryville called Appalachian OUTreach. My point was, “Churches opposed to ‘all ages’ drag shows and conservatives who express criticism of the LGBTQ agenda are targeted for hateful responses–and even retaliation–by the bullies posing as ‘victims.’ It is time to expose the double standard and regard the LGBTQ extremists for what they are–a Rainbow Mafia.”
Within days of my post, the Rainbow Mafia (through one of the board members of the nonprofit in question, who also serves as the organization’s “Secretary and Administrative Coordinator,” Rhonda Radford), began attacking me personally on social media as “heartless, cold, and hateful.” Oh my. (This is not the first time Radford attacked me. In late 2020, she posted a Facebook comment calling me a “jackass” and stating that she would “like to throat punch” me.) This is LGBTQ’s version of “tolerance” and “inclusion.”
Let’s take a closer look at this organization, Appalachian OUTreach. Who are they and what do they do?
The mission statement of Appalachian OUTreach is to:
Empower, connect, & support the East Tennessee lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual, polyamorous, and two-spirit (LGBTQ+) people through the provision of affirming and safe, inclusive and welcoming programs, services & partnerships, which promote community building, resource development, & education for all.
The group’s “vision” is “to impact change for all LGBTQ+ individuals, families, children, teens, & adults living in the East Tennessee area.” In other words, Appalachian OUTreach seeks to promote the LGBTQ agenda—and lifestyle—to all age groups in East Tennessee, including children. The controversial “family friendly” Blount Pride event held in Maryville last year, which featured drag performers targeting children, was sponsored in part by Appalachian OUTreach. Critics called this “grooming.”
There are many LGBTQ groups in Knox and Blount counties, all of which are far out of the mainstream of conservative East Tennessee values and culture. Blount Countians as a whole would never, for example, honor a drag performer who goes by the name “Icky Stardust” as a “community hero,” let alone “an inspiration for art and advocacy.” Yet Appalachian OUTreach features the bizarre character “Icky Stardust” in this manner on its website.
The interesting thing about Appalachian OUTreach is that it was founded, and is led (as a board member who also serves as the group’s President) by Shannon Brown, who describes herself (pronouns: she/her/x) as “an LCSW therapist who opened her private practice, Psychotherapy & Forensic Services, in Blount County.” Ms. Brown also describes herself as “an advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ rights and justice since the 1990’s.”
The website of Psychotherapy & Forensic Services, located in Maryville, lists Ms. Brown as “Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Founder & Owner” and describes her as
a therapist who is devoted to providing a safe space for people living in Maryville and all of Tennessee. She/x focuses on increasing every person’s sense of empowerment & self-determination, providing advocacy to minimize barriers for change & growth, & educating all clients & family/community members. Shannon provides therapy for children, teenagers, adults, couples & families.
Ms. Brown claims to be “an expert in the area of transgender and nonbinary health for children, teenagers & adults,” and her practice includes “Transgender/Non-Binary Identity/Gender identity exploration” and writing “letters for gender-affirming and non-binary-affirming medical interventions.” In other words, advocating genital mutilation, breast removal surgery, and chemical sterilization via hormone treatments for confused children who question their biological sex. Chillingly, Ms. Brown’s website also states that “We provide court-ordered mental health assessments and therapy.” I’m shocked to learn that courts in Blount County would even consider referring cases to such an extremist with an obvious agenda.
A cynic might look at this business model with a jaundiced eye. Found a group that celebrates (and thereby normalizes) LGBTQ status; sponsor and promote drag shows targeted at children (even babies!); aggressively groom vulnerable youth to question their sexuality or biological sex; encourage confused children to believe that they have a condition requiring psychological treatment and/or medical intervention; and then provide the necessary consultation, “treatment,” and authorization at an hourly rate—“insurance and private pay accepted.”
This group professes “love, kindness and a respect for all,” but responds to all criticism with mean-spirited fury.
Meet the Rainbow Mafia–both hateful and mercenary.