June 18th, 2021
Anna Wienburg, a Grade 12 student at Bluevale Collegiate Institute (BCI) in Waterloo, is putting her hair on the line to raise funds for Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps LGBTQI people seek safe haven from violence and persecution. Wienburg pledged to shave off all her hair if she hit the initial goal of $1,000. With that goal well surpassed, Wienburg is feeling ready to shave her head at the end of the month.
“The initial goal has been hit, so, I’m doing it,” said Wienburg with a laugh. “I’m ready for the change. I am looking forward to it.”
Deciding to support Rainbow Railroad happened almost by chance, with Wienburg stumbling across information about the organization while scrolling through social media. Immediately, she was struck by the need to support their work.
“I just found them, out of the blue,” said Wienburg. “Perfect timing.”
Rainbow Railroad works around the world to help LGBTQI+ people escape state-sponsored violence. In over 70 countries around the world, LGBTQI+ people face violence and oppression simply because of who they love or who they are.
“It is absolutely ludicrous to me,” said Wienburg.
Since the organization’s founding, they’ve helped over 1,600 individuals find safety through emergency relocation and other forms of assistance. For Wienburg, this mission is one worth supporting – even if it means shaving her head to make it happen.
“I feel very privileged, as a queer person, living in Canada,” said Wienburg. “I can be out. I can be proud. My family supports me. My community supports me.”
Wienburg recalled that the idea to shave her head as a fundraiser began as a result of her own indecision on the matter. Being able to raise money for a cause she believed in was the reason she needed to make it happen.
“This gave me the motivation to shave my head, while doing a really cool thing for Pride month,” she said.
While the reaction from many is shock when hearing that her characteristic curls will be disappearing, all are supportive of her choice to support Rainbow Railroad while doing so. She was caught off guard by how quickly she reached her initial goal, and was surprised to see how generous members of her family, her peers and members of the community have been.
Rainbow Railroad themselves caught wind of Wienburg’s fundraiser, and wanted to share what a difference her efforts are making for those they support.
“Rainbow Railroad is a grassroots non-profit organization dependent upon the incredible support of communities of LGBTQI+ people and their allies across Canada and indeed around the world,” said Eric Wright, Communications Officer with Rainbow Railroad, who also had a special message for Wienburg. “Anna, you are not just supporting Rainbow Railroad, you’re part of our movement for human rights for all LGBTQI+ people globally.”
Wienburg remains focused on continuing to gather support for the work of Rainbow Railroad, so that all may live in safety and security, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
“I wish all queer people had the safety and security that I feel like I have,” said Wienburg. “I know I am very lucky to have that and I want to try to spread that to as many people as possible.”