National Coming Out events are designed to promote public awareness of issues that affect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ). Events have traditionally been aimed at the LGBTQ community, but Adams points out that those who identify as straight have an important role to play as advocates for equality.
Adams pointed out that polls show the current generation of high school and college aged Americans is more supportive of equality than any generation ever—from hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples to workplace fairness.
“Achieving full equality will take action and support from non-gay allies,” said Adams, the first openly gay candidate to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city. “Like LGBTQ people, allies will find that coming out is not a one-time event, but rather a lifelong journey.”
The mayor-elect’s talk is part of a week-long series of National Coming Out events being organized by the Lewis & Clark student organization United Sexualities. The organization’s leaders say having Adams participate in these events reinforces the significance of this national celebration and sends a strong message that the LGBTQ community has been eager to make clear—discrimination and inequality affects all citizens.
Whitney Ellis, a United Sexualities leader and senior majoring in international affairs, said that while Portland and Lewis & Clark are widely seen as inclusive and supportive of diversity, there is more work to be done to create an equitable society.
“We hope that all staff, faculty, and students at Lewis & Clark, and the wider Portland community, will see National Coming Out events as a time to come together to explore how these issues affect all of us,” Ellis said.
Adams will speak on October 7 at 7 p.m. in Agnes Flanagan Chapel. The event is free and open to the public. Adams’ address, Gay and Straight Coming Out Together, is co-sponsored by the Gender Studies Department and United Sexualities and supported by the Office of the President and Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.