On Tuesday, Oct. 11, openly gay lawmakers and their allied colleagues will mark ‘LGBT National Coming Out Day’ at the State House by coming out both as gay and as allies of the transgender community, and lifting up the voices of transgender residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Beginning at 9 a.m. in Nurses Hall, lawmakers will sponsor an exhibit of 12 videos from the “I AM: Trans People Speak” project, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s public education campaign that features transgender people and their friends and family members speaking about their lives and experiences. The videos will run continuously throughout the day in Nurses Hall and can be seen at www.transpeoplespeak.org
At 11:30 a.m. Representative Carl Sciortino, co-lead sponsor of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, will host a program of speakers in Nurses Hall that includes Senator Benjamin Downing, a lead sponsor in the Senate. Along with Sciortino, the other openly LGB legislators co-sponsoring the event include Senator Stanley Rosenberg, Representative Denise Andrews, Representative Liz Malia and Representative Sarah Peake.
“As one of the few LGBT legislators in Massachusetts, I feel proud to live in a state where our community has made great progress protecting our basic rights. This sends a message that discrimination and violence against gay people is unacceptable and allows me to be out and serve my community” said Rep. Sciortino. “Sadly, too many transgender people still bear the burden of the closet because coming out could mean the loss of their job, the loss of their housing and the threat of violence and harassment. We should help them live in safety and dignity by passing the Transgender Equal Rights Bill.”
“I’m proud to come out as a strong straight ally of my fellow LGBT citizens, especially those who are transgender, and I strongly support their right to live their lives openly and without the threat of violence and discrimination,” said Sen. Downing. “I hope that on National Coming Out Day, more of my colleagues will come out as supporters of transgender equality and join me in calling for passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill.”
Founded in 1988 by the late lesbian activist Jean O’Leary and the late gay psychologist and author Robert Eichberg, National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed day aimed at empowering LGBT people to come out publicly in order to raise awareness of the LGBT community. O’Leary and Eichberg chose the date of October 11 because it was the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.