Rainbros Co-founder adds to fabric of gay life in Atlanta
By Matthew Holley
Ever since its launch at the start of the New Year, Rainbros has redefined what it means to be a gay man in Atlanta through its unique take on peer mentorship and group activities. Rainbros envisions opportunities to discover commonalities and foster friendships above and beyond the typical gay hotspots and our own limited personal social circles.
Co-founder James Brian Yancey has worked tirelessly on the organization’s unique focus on common themes that most gay men struggle to navigate: fitness, finance, career building and health. We like what we see, so we named Yancey this month’s Man About Town and asked for more about his vision, his life in Atlanta, and his hopes for Rainbros future.
How did Rainbros come about?
I grew up in in Atlanta with organizations like Youth Pride and places like Outwrite bookstore, where I hung out with and made new friends when I was under 21. Those groups and places that support and foster relationship building outside of clubs and bars no longer exist, … so I always wanted to support people in our community to get on the right track.
More broadly, our community is hyper-sexualized… I’ve heard people say over and over that they are tired of apps and hookups and just want real connection in the real world. In seeing a lack of support for each other and hearing that people just want to connect a safe platonic way, the ideas for Rainbros were born. Mike Duffy, a Senior Producer for CNN at the time, and I shared parts of this vision and collaborated to co-found the organization.
So what exactly is Rainbros?
The core of Rainbros is peer coaching. We have 70 approved coaches that we’ve interviewed and who have gone through background checks to ensure safety. … We meet with people to hear the areas of their life that they want to grow in, and we connect them to a coach to establish goals and work toward them in life.
We also support and promote an ecosystem of events across theater, networking, health and fitness, personal finance, healthy relationships, networking and gay history to build community.
Where do you hope it goes in five years?
I hope Rainbros will have a method that consistently results in successful outcomes that can be packaged and replicated in other cities in the U.S. and countries around the globe. The world needs more peer coaching and supportive, platonic relationships.
Tell us about yourself outside of Rainbros.
I’m a rare Atlanta native. Even though I’ve lived in NYC for three years and London for six, Atlanta is home and I keep coming back. …
I had the chance to get involved very early with a digital marketing agency called 360i and ended up moving to NYC and London winning new biz, growing and managing teams and learning a lot from my lifelong mentor, the CEO there, Bryan Wiener. I got to launch and build the business in London from scratch, knowing no one there. …
We sold that company, and I used the proceeds to start my current company CloudTags, a venture-backed connected retail technology using ultrasonic waves to connect smartphones and staff tablets with no app needed. We are in Ponce City Market and have a team and offices in London as well.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love running and I love anything and everything in Piedmont Park – Green Market, concerts, Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I spend lots of time having adventures with my dog Winnie. I adore every aspect of the BeltLine and what it symbolizes and can be very happy anywhere on it seeing the diverse people of our city.
I’ve also been known to throw a few epic house parties for Joining Hearts and Halloween. I also spend a lot of time boating with friends on Lake Lanier at Gay Cove.
What are your favorite things about Atlanta?
The BeltLine is definitely number one, and the Lantern Festival is pretty great too. All of the hidden parks and places in Ansley Park are a close second. Tacqueria del Sol and Bacchanalia are two special food places. … I love so much about Atlanta it’s hard to list it all.