Nearly 200 people turned out early Tuesday evening at Town nightclub’s outdoor patio for a National Coming Out Day celebration hosted by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs and the city’s HIV/AIDS Administration.
Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the LGBTQ Affairs Office, told the gathering she was proud that she and numerous other openly LGBT people serve in high-level positions in the Bowser administration, calling that a clear sign the city is a welcoming place for the LGBT community.
Among those attending the event were out LGBT officials Polly Donaldson, director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development; Matt Brown, director of the Office of Budget and Finance; Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, supervisor of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Unit; and Michael Kharfen, director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, or HAHSTA, which coordinates the city’s HIV-related programs.
A dozen or more other out LGBT city employees and members of the mayor’s LGBT Advisory Committee mingled with attendees.
Also attending was Marvin Bowser, brother of Mayor Bowser, who along with Alexander-Reid, talked about their own coming out stories related to their parents and siblings.
“My sister Muriel has been my best straight ally,” Marvin Bowser said.
“People ask what is the importance of coming out,” Alexander-Reid said after urging those who haven’t to consider doing so.
“The importance is it changes hearts and minds and ultimately policies and laws that affect all of us around the country,” she said.