Kudos to Equality Florida's Robin Hankins and the good folks at Unity Clearwater for hosting a powerful Coming Out Day event Oct 11th that drew massive media coverage on our issues.
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PINELLAS COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- In celebration of "National Coming Out Day," a Clearwater church hosted a community event to share stories.
Unity Church of Clearwater hosted "Stories of our Lives," which was facilitated by Robin Hankins, executive director of As I Am Institute.
Members of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender community and their family and friends were encouraged to share stories of overcoming and coming out.
"For 25 years we've been virtually ignored by our families, and we have had no contact. We were allowed no contact," said Misty Lerma, who attended the discussion. "They were going to tell their friends that we were no longer alive."
The event took place as thousands of gay and lesbian activists converged in Washington, D.C. for Sunday's National Equality March, and on the tail of President Barack Obama's speech to the nation's largest gay rights group Saturday night.
President Obama promised to end the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.
Hankins says she hopes the President follows through on his pledge.
"It's something we would like to see materialized," said Hankins. "While I think President Obama has good intentions, it's something we would like to see actually happen."
Hankins is also the founding board chair of Equality Florida, and says the organization is also focusing on overturning the gay and lesbian adoption ban in the state.
"It's just horrific. If I were in a position of having to adopt my own niece and nephew, I couldn't. It would be illegal in the state of Florida and it's atrocious," Hankins said. "This ban happened in the 70s, and it's time to overturn it."
Vance Lackore with the Christian Coalition of Pinellas County disagrees with lifting the ban.
"If two homosexuals are raising a child, those traits are going to be mirrored or emulated by the child in most cases," Lackore said. "They will think it's a perfectly normal thing.