Attention LGBTQ+ Ohioans: you are cordially invited to…a Coming Out Party!
Whether you are in your teens or 90s, have come out to one friend, everyone you have ever encountered, or maybe haven’t told anyone (yet?), Rainbow Dublin is inviting you to its inaugural Coming Out Party on August 8.
In addition to the day’s festivities, the event also serves as one of the first big occasions to celebrate the city of Dublin’s first LGBTQ+ community alliance.
For the Rainbow Dublin origin story, we need only look back a few weeks to Pride Month.
On June 25, the city of Dublin—a suburb 20 miles northwest of Columbus—hosted its first Pride celebration in the form of a unity walk. Attendees gathered in front of the Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The Dublin Link, an iconic bridge over the Scioto River, displayed rainbow colors June 25-27 to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City.
That was the night Bobby Weston realized he had to step up to launch Rainbow Dublin.
“We had almost 100 battery-operated candles in all the rainbow colors for those we’ve lost fighting for years for LGBTQ equality and equity,” Weston said. “We had quite a few local candidates for public office supporting us. It was that night I realized I’ve got to [launch Rainbow Dublin]. I knew there were too many people there, and if I didn’t do this, I was going to end up letting someone down.”
In less than a week, Rainbow Dublin was fully incorporated in the state of Ohio with bylaws and a code of ethics, and the organization is currently awaiting its nonprofit exemption from the IRS.
In order to address the rejection many members of the LGBTQ+ community associate with coming out, Weston decided a Coming Out Party would be a wonderful opportunity to show his LGBTQ+ neighbors that they are loved and wanted in their community. As he and other volunteers started planning the event, supporters began showing up everywhere Weston turned, including Equality Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Columbus PFLAG, and Free Mom Hugs. Weston also reached out to local educators to encourage them to show their support for their LGBTQ+ students by attending the Coming Out Party.
“You never know who’s going to be there to support and protect you and be there with you,” Weston said. “I figured what better than a Coming Out Party before school starts. This isn’t just for young individuals. I spoke to a man recently who is almost 70 but didn’t come out until his 40s. This is just as much for older individuals as it is for the young people.”
Ultimately, Rainbow Dublin’s biggest goal is to advocate for city officials to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations in Dublin. Of the 8 Ohio cities rated by the Human Rights Campaign in their 2020 Municipal Equality Index, Dublin was the only location to receive a failing grade. With the federal Equality Act and the Ohio Fairness Act both seemingly stalling, Weston said it is up to local government to protect constituents.
“This means something to a lot of us. Some people aren’t as privileged as I am to know that my boss can’t fire me because I’m gay,” said Weston, who works in the public sector. “There are a lot of people in the community, and we want their voices to be heard. They are not only prominent voices. It’s fine to talk to a doctor, attorney, CEO – that’s fine. But where’s the person who’s on the front line every day? Hopefully, we can get this passed to make life better for all of us.”