The closet doors of a handful of proud locals flew open Friday for National Coming Out Day.
Approximately 20 people celebrated National Coming Out Day on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Plaza Del Mar Park in downtown Santa Barbara to support each other and reach out to those still in the closet. The ceremony consisted of three guest speakers and informational tables supplying pamphlets, condoms and novelty items.
Along with the support of Santa Barbara County, the event was organized and funded by the Pacific Pride Foundation, Planned Parenthood and the Unitarian Society. Each group provided literature covering general information, contact s and ongoing and upcoming events.
Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, a supporter of National Coming Out Day, was scheduled to kick off the event but never showed up to read a city proclamation. Instead, Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program Monica Arrambide initiated the ceremony with a brief history of the nationally recognized day. She continued with a personal testimony and encouraged those weary of staying in the closet to find strength in her words and take the first step.
Arrambide said it was 15 years ago when Coming Out Day was declared a national event. She said coming out for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people is not a black or white, in or out issue.
“It is a journey, not a destination,” she said.
Rev. Mark Asman, rector for Trinity Episcopal Church of Santa Barbara and board member of Pacific Pride Foundation, was second to take the stage. He described his experiences of growing up and praying not to be gay. He said it was through his strong belief that he learned how to be confident in who he is.
“I am who I am, and am the way God made me to be a man,” Asman said.
Kyle Richards, director of the UCSB Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Identity, spoke third. He said that the approximately 10 percent of the American population that identifies as being homosexual, bisexual or transgendered is a minority. As such, its members should be supportive of other minority groups.
“While we go through our journey,” he said, “we need to see how we can be allies to other groups in need.”
A few upcoming events include the a screening of “The Laramie Project,” a story about the murder of Matthew Shepard, at Santa Barbara City College on Oct. 11-26, OUTrageous, the Santa Barbara Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on Nov. 8-10, and World AIDS Day on Dec.1.
For additional information, visit Pacific Pride Foundation’s website at www.pacificpridefoundation.org.