October 12, 2016 at 3:31 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Mayor’s office hosts ‘Coming Out Day’ reception
National Coming Out Day, gay news, Washington Blade

Sheila Alexander-Reid was among the city officials who attended Tuesday’s Coming Out Day reception. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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