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Coming Out in Colorado: Pride and (Fighting) Prejudice

October 10, 2008

Denver, CO - This weekend in Colorado is about "Pride and Fighting Prejudice," as events begin tomorrow for the state's participation in National Coming Out Day, hosted by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado. Saturday's celebration will be followed on Sunday by somber remembrances at vigils around the country, observing the tenth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming student murdered in a brutal hate crime.

Debra Pollock with the GLBT Center says coming out - publicly acknowledging and discussing gender differences - is an important way to build tolerance and acceptance, fight homophobia, and prevent future tragedies.

"The more people are 'out,' and the more people know that they know gay people, the less homophobia there is."

Pollock says that, even a full decade after Shepard's death led to calls for tolerance and stronger hate crime laws, there is still plenty of room for progress.

"Every ninety seconds there's a kid that's harassed in school, so there's still a lot of work to be done educating people that we're just like everybody else."

Pollock says the Coming Out celebration is all about introducing young people to a community in which they can feel welcome and be themselves.

"It's a place where they can see adults who are happy and successful and can be mentors to them, and know that they're not alone and they don't have to be isolated."

More information about National Coming Out Day in Colorado is available online at
www.glbtcolorado.org . The Matthew Shepard memorial can be viewed online at www.matthewshepard.org.

Eric Mack/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CO