In 1989, the idea for RainbowYOUTH was suggested during a gay and lesbian conference held in Auckland. Two weeks later, RainbowYOUTH (known then as Auckland Gay and Lesbian Youth (ALGY)) had their first meeting. The idea behind ALGY was to create a group for young gay and lesbian Aukclanders that was safe and inclusive.
In 1995, ALGY’s name was changed to Rainbow Youth and it became an incorporated society. Rainbow Youth moved in to their first premises which was offices shared with Youthline in Grafton and then in Ponsonby. Rainbow Youth had two paid staff members, but mostly it opperated on a volunteer basis.
Between 1995 – 2000, Rainbow Youth’s Executive Board and several staff members worked to move the orgainisation into a more professional space. Peer-support groups, which still exist in 2015, were created. Another important development during this time was the creation of Rainbow Youth’s education programme. This was run by volunteers and reached several schools in Auckland.
Between 2000 until 2005, Rainbow Youth premises were moved a total of 6 times: Grafton, Ponsonby, Maidstone Street, Mt. Eden (where Rainbow Youth attempted to create an LGBT emergency housing project, but it fell through when funding was cut), and Pitt Street.
In 2005, Rainbow Youth moved into the drop-in centre at 281 Karangahape Road.
2009 saw Rainbow Youth get a major boost in their usual fundraising efforts when Tam ati Coffey picked Rainbow Youth as his choosen charity for Dancing With The Stars. Tamati went on to win the competition and his winnings helped boost Rainbow Youth to start of their journey towards becoming a national orgainsation.
Between 2009 – 2013, Rainbow Youth pushed their national efforts more widely, holding the largest queer and gender diverse hui to date, as well as launching the WTF fundraising campaign – whch garnered attention from celebrities such as Sir Ian McKellen.
Recent years (2014 – 2015) have seen Rainbow Youth grow in leaps and bounds. In 2014, they rebranded to RainbowYOUTH, launching a new website and an app in the process. 2014 also saw the education programme get a revamp, with the hiring of an education team to provide for the ever-growing demand in New Zealand schools. RainbowYOUTH also launched The I’m Local Project – a rural outreach effort that has seen 50,000 booklets addressing sexuality and gender being delivered all around Aotearoa. In 2015, RainbowYOUTH launched their new national education resource called Inside Out.