Painbow is now defunct.

Richard Leis created Painbow after he witnessed and experienced two incidents of discrimination. His idea was to briefly describe each situation, include the hurtful statement itself, and provide a short response.

The name came from an episode of Angel where the eponymous character under a supernatural sensitivity training spell tells the bad guy “you can be a rainbow, not a ‘pain’ bow.” [Starts at 2:11 in the clip below.]


Launched in 2007, Painbow was a simple, colorful website with blocks of brief and large text for quick and easy reading. The first incident example is below. Incident, hurtful statement, response.

The second incident recorded was one of sexism toward a new member by a local leader of an atheist club. The new member was a young woman attending the club for the first time, like Richard. After Richard published this incident on Painbow (without naming names, a self-imposed rule), the club leader found out and commented on the website. He was apologetic, but Richard was disturbed and frightened by how quickly he found out about the post. The thought of having to deal with comments that might get really angry and ugly, led him to take the site down.

Social media today offers an outlet for posting about incidents of discrimination, pointing out bigotry and violence, expressing outrage, and calling people to action.

Point out and publicly shame bigots.

Painbow website
Painbow website

Incident: Two bikers rode by me while I was walking on the University of Arizona campus. The first stranger raised his hand to get a high five from me. I did not raise mine but I smiled at the silliness.

Hurtful Statement: He said “You faggot.”

Response: Either way I reacted (played along, or not) I was simply the butt of some joke he wanted to play on a perfect stranger. The punchline was his power over me, or his hateful language if he could not get me to go along. To impose such a thing on another, to show such disrespect for another human, that was the point. That was his joke.

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