It is with great sadness that the Board and staff of The Rainbow Project learn of the death of their founder member Thomas on 18th January 2011, aged 47 years.
Whilst at University Tom McManus (wee Tom or Irish Tommy) carried out a piece of research into the needs of gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland, this needs assessment went on to form the foundation stone for the development of the Rainbow Project. By 1994 Tom had brought together a small group of men from across the North and built links with existing organisations in Dublin and London in order to establish a project that aimed to improve the health and well being of his community.
As a young energetic and enthusiast activist Tom had an incredible ability to see potential in others and possessed the charm to harness that potential in order to make a difference and in the process he was the first to do many things. He was the 1st Chairman of the Rainbow Project, he established the 1st condom outreach initiatives in Belfast and Derry, he hosted the 1st safer sex packing party, he secured our 1st grant aid and he also negotiated our 1st contract with the NHS. Tom helped establish strong links with Dublin and was a prime mover in the Gay Health Network, in addition to all that He was also heavily involved in the Pride movement during the 90’s in 3 cities.
Activism wasn’t merely an interest for Tom, it was a consuming passion that occupied his whole life at that time and when he moved to Wales it was inevitable that his energies would soon be felt there also. Before long he was a key mover in the development of SWISH in Swansea, an organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life for HIV positive people. In his all too short career he managed to make a huge difference to many lives, and that legacy continues to have an impact on both sides of the Irish sea.
He will be remembered by his many friends for his shock of red hair, his pain in the ass perfectionism, his terrible filing system and his awful grey suit, his charm, his wit and his infectious Scooby-doo laugh. But most of all we will miss his passion and love for people and his great sense of community.
The Board of Directors and staff of The Rainbow Project would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Tom’s mother, father and family circle on their sad loss.