Monday, October 10, 2005

Talk About It: October 11th is Coming Out Day

(Link) I've got so much to do! All the baking, decorating the tree, making costumes for the cats...

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LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Doreen Brandt

Tuesday marks National Coming Out Day, but events are planned throughout the week in many communities nationwide, with the theme this year: 'Talk About It'.

"Talk About It,” encourages gays to talk openly and honestly about their lives and the inequalities gay , lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans face under law .

“Every single time we talk about it , we are one step closer to equality,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese told

“Each word helps build bridges that change hearts and minds — and eventually our laws.”

National Coming Out Day is celebrated every Oct. 11 to mark the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Equality.

Over the past 16 years there have been remarkable advances in LGBT civil rights, but perhaps the most noticeable change has been the number of people publicly identifying as gay.

In the 1980s the average gay came out in college. Today it is in high school, and gay-straight alliances are springing up in high schools across the country..

In 1997there were 100 high school gay and lesbian groups. Now, there are about 3,000 across the country. Still bullying and harassment of LGBT students continues to be a problem. A 2003 study by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network found that about 84 percent of gay students report being verbally harassed at school.

Same-sex couples are also becoming more visible. According to the 2000 census gay and lesbian couples live in 99.3 percent of all counties nationwide. The census also found that there are at least 1 million children in this country being raised by same-sex couples.

There are more than 1 million gay and lesbian veterans in the U.S. the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network says. And, nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies offer domestic-partner health benefits according to the Human Rights Campaign.

To mark National Coming Out Day HRC is showcasing what it calls the top 10 straight advocates for LGBT equality.

“Being out and open about our lives is not just for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people, but for everyone who cares about equality,” said Solmonese.

The list includes actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth who plays Annabeth on NBC’s The West Wing. Chenoweth has worked with Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS and was recently asked not to perform at a “Women of Faith” concert because of her outspoken belief in GLBT rights.

Rev. Al Sharpton – a national voice for justice and equality – has long been a supporter of equal rights for GLBT Americans, and, as a candidate for President in 2004, brought those views to the national stage.

“We need to tear down the barriers that separate us,” said Sharpton. “I am honored not only to be named on this list, but also to stand with my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters to end hatred and intolerance wherever they live.”

The list also includes Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson who recently made headlines when he signed an executive order to provide domestic partner benefits for Salt Lake City employees. Conservatives are fighting the initiative in court.

Other names include the Rev. Dr. Norm Kansfield who was put on trial by the Reformed Church of America and suspend as a Professor of Theology for officiating at the wedding of his daughter, Ann, to her partner, Jennifer; Peter Hams who came out on national television to support of his moms, Marcia Hams and Sue Shepard – the first same-sex couple married in Massachusetts; and actress Felicity Huffman, a longtime supporter of GLBT rights, who came this year out as a powerful supporter of the transgender community through her work on her new film, Transamerica.

The list also noted Telemundo talk show host Cristina Saralegui, Ted Childs; Vice President for Global Workforce Diversity at IBM; Grammy award winning artist Kanye West who has spoken out against homophobia in hip-hop; and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero who made Spain the fourth country to offer same-sex couples equality through marriage.