What's going on for National Coming Out Day

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Diane Peterson, guest columnist

Today is National Coming Out Day. If you are fortunate enough to be a person someone trusts to come out to, you can say, “Thank you for telling me. You know how much I love and care about you.”

National Coming Out Day was started in October 1988 to celebrate individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. And although Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s Going On,” was written about social justice, poverty and violence in the 1960s, I have those lyrics running through my mind. My brain is thinking about the possibilities and positivity in Iowa regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex or asexual (LGBTQIA) people, their family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.

It is estimated that 4 percent of Americans identify as gay/lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Although that seems like a small number, in reality it means we all most likely know a person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex or asexual.

I love my family — and all people — unconditionally. I am certain all Iowans feel unconditional love toward their family, too. But because some of these topics only recently have became easy to talk about, we may need a little help understanding terms, understanding what it means when someone comes out to us, and how to react or what to say when they do.

I am proud to announce a wonderful collaboration: In consideration of National Coming Out Week, the LGBTQIA+ Resource Coalition, PFLAG, and The Alliance Center of Linn County are jointly hosting an LGBTQIA+ resource fair.

Join us Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Grant Wood AEA at 4401 Sixth St. SW, Cedar Rapids, for an evening that will include information about health and reproduction, law, civil rights, faith and spirituality, advocacy, crisis intervention and youth development.

Local author Susan Norman, who has written about suicide prevention, will speak at 7 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. Please join us and share in the positive collaboration of our community.

Whether you are LGBTQIA or not, this is a perfect time for you to come and ask questions, visit the resource booths and learn about groups in the area. Learn about our bibliotherapy program, our collaboration with a local clinic bring Transcare to the area, the LGBTQIA+ Resource Coalition and the newly formed Alliance Center of Linn County.

If you are thinking of coming out, PFLAG has resources to help. Just visit www.pflag.org

• Diane Peterson, of Cedar Rapids, is a community advocate and business owner. Comments: ddpeters57@gmail.com

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