Metro Weekly

Hillwood celebrates Rainbow Families Picnic this Saturday

Hillwood continues its tradition of extending a warm welcome to LGBTQ families

Hillwood Gay Day — Photo: Ward Morrison

“The Rainbow Families Picnic actually started out as part of Hillwood’s Gay Day, and it just grew to the point where it became its own program,” says Angie Dodson, director of learning and engagement at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden. “It was a program designed to make sure that the LGBTQ community knew how welcome they were at Hillwood.

“At that point in time, people needed to know they were welcome,” Dodson says. “Even cultural organizations could not work under the assumption that LGBTQ people were welcome. So we worked with an advisory council and started offering programs like Gay Day or the ‘Divas Outdoors’ film festival.”

About 150 people attend the annual event, now in its ninth year. Organizers have planned several family friendly activities, including lawn games, face painting, a putting green, and art-making activities related to “Spectacular,” the ongoing exhibit of gems and jewelry from the Merriweather Post collection.

Not What You Think, a 12-person a cappella group of gay men and lesbians, will perform an arrangement of popular songs, light jazz, and folk music from 2 to 3 p.m.

“We’ve called on Hillwood founder Margaret Merriweather Post’s tradition of offering a very warm and gracious welcome to the museum,” Dodson says of Hillwood’s LGBTQ outreach. “She wanted all of us to enjoy her home and gardens and our collection, and to learn something of it, as well as her lifestyle.

Hillwood Gay Day — Photo: Ward Morrison

“It’s a very genuine welcome. And it’s clearly something we’ve sustained, and at this point, we’ve shifted from doing ‘Gay Day’ to saying ‘Every day is Gay Day’ at Hillwood now, becuase we have significant LGBTQ representation and participation in all of our programs.”

The ninth annual Rainbow Families DC Picnic is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Advance admission is strongly advised, and costs $5 per adult. Admission at the door costs $18 per adult. Visit

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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