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Board tops National Coming Out Day observances
Dayton--The 20th anniversary of National Coming Out Day on October 11 will be marked with a first, as Diversity Dayton rallies under their newly-unveiled billboard, co-sponsored by the Greater Dayton LGBT Center.
R.J. McKay, the organizer of Diversity Dayton, is hailing it as the city’s first pro-gay billboard.
“It is legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian,” announces the board, which urges viewers to “Speak OUT against workplace discrimination.” Above this is the group’s website, with the Greater Dayton LGBT Center’s name at the bottom.
The rally will be at noon next Thursday at the corner of South Jefferson St. and South Patterson Blvd. For more information, go to www.diversitydayton.org.
The billboard is the first in a series of monthly messages being put forward by Diversity Dayton to highlight issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The rally, however, is far from the only recognition of National Coming Out Day in the state.
At Ohio State University in Columbus, students, faculty and staff are signing their names to a full-page ad in the Lantern, the campus newspaper.
The advertisement runs annually, placed by the Office of GLBT Student Services.
OSU students and staff can sign up to be included in this year’s ad at http://mcc.osu.edu/secure/comingout.asp.
In Cincinnati, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network are teaming up for a gathering at Awakenings Coffee and Tea Company, 2734 Erie Ave., at 7 pm.
No reservations are required, and the event will run until 9 pm. For more information, go to http://cincinnati.hrc.org/node/80.
Finally, the Cleveland LGBT Center and Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio are joining together to present a screening of the documentary Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community at 8 pm.
The event will be held at C-Space, 4323 Clark Ave., and the screening will be followed by a panel discussion.
For more information, go to www.lgbtcleveland.org or call 216-6515428 ext. 12.
The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1998, one year to the day after the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. (Similar marches took place in 1979, 1993 and 2000.)
While there is no actual coordination of events for National Coming Out Day, the Human Rights Campaign acts as a clearinghouse for information and resources on the subject.
This year’s National Coming Out Day theme is “Talk About It,” which matches the 20th anniversary of the 1987 march and the unfurling of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt that same weekend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
"Twenty years ago, as the AIDS crisis was raging, coming out was literally a matter of life and death," said Mark Shields, director of HRC’s Coming Out Project. "In many ways, we have come a very long way in a relatively short time, and yet that lesson still resonates deeply today. Coming out and living openly is the most important thing that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight-supportive Americans can do to build lasting understanding and equality."