Coming Out Project

By David Webb Staff Writer

Coordinators seek more volunteers for effor



The board of directors of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association meet at the Melrose Hotel on Thursday. The association is in town for its annual February symposium.

Coordinators of the National Coming Out Project’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter plan to expand outreach to the GLBT community this year by attracting more volunteers.

“We are seeking individuals who realize that we cannot sit on the sidelines anymore,” said Alan Reynolds, co-chair of the project. “If we want to be successful in overcoming the political challenges faced by our community, we must first strategically inform potential allies of our community and aggressively coax all LGBT persons to be more open and honest with the people in their lives.”

To attract more people to the GLBT rights movement, the group will host a volunteer recruitment party at the Bronx on Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Jonathan Boarman, co-chair of the project, said the local effort enjoyed unprecedented success in 2005 because of new volunteers. The project distributed 13,000 Human Rights Campaign equality logo stickers, increased the special advertising section called “Be Who You Are” in The Dallas Morning News from 12 to 24 pages and launched a series of coming out workshops to help people leave the closet.

“The amazing growth in success of our local projects has been entirely due to the growth in the volunteer base in 2005,” Boarman said. “In 2006, our team has committed to pursue an even greater agenda because we feel that the time is ripe and that coming out is our community’s greatest weapon.”
Boarman said coming out is the easiest way to reach out to and build allies.
This year, the project’s coordinators hope to triple the number of equality logo stickers they distribute to 36,000, Boarman said.

Mark Shields, national director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Project, said the local group’s success with distributing the stickers, which is known as the “Stick Out Campaign” convinced him to increase the inventory of stickers shipped to Dallas-Fort Worth.

“The Dallas team has done an excellent job implementing the Stick Out Campaign, which is why I did everything possible to ensure they were able to expand this program in 2006,” Shields said.

Boarman said the local projects coordinators began measuring the number of cars on the road with stickers and charted the growth.

“The number of cars boasting an HRC sticker grew by more than 200 percent during our 2005 season,” Boarman said. “With a much greater inventory of stickers this year, we will be able to expand this successful program beyond the Oak Lawn area into many other parts of the metroplex.”

Expansion into other Texas cities is planned for the special advertising section “Be Who You Are.” Boarman said. Growth in advertising support last year convinced coordinators in other cities to consider a similar project in Houston and Austin, he said.

“By reaching outside the bubble of our community through interesting, positive and informative stories about real LGBT people in the mainstream press, we are creating a more accepting environment which helps our community take its next step in the coming out process,” Boarman said.
Plans are underway to expand the coming out workshops conducted at the Cathedral of Hope to Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties, Boarman said.
With the help of Valiente, a gay Latino group, coordinators have already expanded the workshops to include one conducted in Spanish, he said.
“Our team is made up of intelligent, idealistic people,” Boarman said. “Sometimes, our goals seem a bit of a reach, but so far we’ve been able to achieve them.”

For more information about volunteering, e-mail co-chairs@comeout.org or visit www.comeout.org.
E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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