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Houston celebrates National Coming Out Day

In his famous “That’s What America Is,” delivered on Gay Freedom Day, June 25, 1978, in San Francisco, slain gay rights leader  Harvey Milk  was famous for imploring homosexuals to come out of the closet. “Gay brothers and sisters…. You must come out. Come out…to your parents…. Come out to your relatives…. Come out to your friends…. Come out to your neighbors…to your fellow workers…to the people who work where you eat and shop…. Come out only to the people you know, and who know you…. Once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters. . . .”

Eleven years later, National Coming Out Day was founded by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in October 1988. It celebrated the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights one year earlier, in which 500,000 people marched in Washington, DC, for LGBT equality.

Now, 21 years later, Pride Houston presents Houston Comes Out! for those who wish to declare their sexuality and celebrate National Coming Out Day with friends.

“More importantly now, than ever before, do we need to emphasize how important it is to live as an open gay man, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered person, or straight supporter,” says Eric Skains, chair of the committee which produces Pride Houston’s annual festival and parade.

“Seeing as how we are on the edge of equality in so many states, it’s important to not take this important process of our lives for granted. The more we come out of the closet, the more others are educated on who we are as individuals.”

Scheduled Oct. 10, 4 p.m., at a private residence, the evening offers intimate cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres as well as a live auction with artwork commissioned for the event. More than $15,000 has been raised to support Pride Houston and the Montrose Counseling Center since the event’s founding in 2007, Skains adds. Tickets are $25. pridehouston.org.

Houston’s GLBT Community Center also celebrates National Coming Out Day and the National March for Equality with Houston’s March for Equality Celebration. The event features a presentation by Ray Hill, one of the organizers of the first GLBT March on Washington. Organizers say the gathering includes performances by poet Lesa Jackson, the Progressive Open Door Christian Center choir, the Unhinged Productions theater company, and live video from the March for Equality rally occurring simultaneously in Washington, DC. Oct. 11, 2:30–4:30 p.m. Resurrection MCC, 2025 T.C. Jester Blvd. —Nancy Ford

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