Nicholas Vazque and Jesse Campbell wanted to do something big for Pride Month.
They didn’t expect to go viral.
In the days since their giant, rainbow-streaming paintbrush began to draw crowds in front of their home, the couple is channeling the attention into raising money to help LGBTQ kids and young adults.
Vazquez and Campbell wanted to provide a special Pride experience for their 16-month-old son, Rocco, but had no idea the decoration would resonate with so many others.
“It started to feel really special, and people were coming up to us and telling me how wonderful and great this makes them feel,” Vazquez said. “This is a time when we really need something like this.”
The couple assembled the setup Thursday, and by Saturday, someone had posted a photo in an Andersonville neighborhood Facebook group. Since then, people have continued to stop by, sometimes forming a line out front, waiting to take photos with the decor. Vazquez, 45, said one couple drove 45 minutes to see the display.
Vazquez, who works as a business operations manager at a credit counseling firm, also said there have been moments when he’s sitting inside with the window open and he’s heard families starting conversations around their display.
“Kids are kids, and they start asking questions,” he said. “I can hear them, and the parents are taking the time and explaining (Pride) to them and what this means and the colors and how this makes people feel.”
The idea for the display started with a quote: “Don’t be afraid to show off your true colors.”
Campbell, 41, who is an interior designer, said the quote reminded him of a paintbrush with many colors on it and thought, “Let me incorporate that into the design.”
He made a paintbrush out of Styrofoam, which they installed on the roof. They hung fabric in the various rainbow colors — red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet — down from the brush and over the entrance to their porch. The quote is displayed on the steps of their home, and Vazquez painted a path that goes over the sidewalk and to the street in the same six colors.
After having so many people come by taking photos of and with the rainbow display, the couple decided to start a fundraiser for the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
“For us, it’s become a way to give back to the community, and a friend of (Vazquez’s) suggested that we ask for donations to a cause,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of places not as diverse as Chicago where the kids really need (the Trevor Project).”
Their fundraiser went live Monday, and so far has raised more than $1,900 of its $10,000 goal.
The couple plan to keep the decor up through the end of the month, but said they would consider putting it back up for this year’s Chicago Pride Parade, which is scheduled for Oct. 3.