Long Beach activist groups perform community outreach at LGBTQ+ Coming Out Community Picnic


Image courtesy of Gay for Good

The South Coast Chorale Singers perform for attendees of the third annual LGBTQ+ Community Coming Out Picnic on Saturday Oct. 26.

The 3rd annual LGBTQ+ Coming Out Community Picnic was held at Houghton Park in Long Beach on Oct. 26.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community, families, organizations and allies gathered to promote community visibility in order to lessen prejudice locally.

Anne Friedman, a volunteer for the nonprofit Gay for Good, spoke about the importance of community outreach in reducing the stigma and social isolation members of the LGBTQ+ community face.

“One of the reasons that people tend to potentially segregate themselves is because there’s just this lack of understanding and there’s a disconnect that we are neighbors and we are the same,” Friedman told the Signal Tribune. “And so, visibility is really important because if you’re not visible people can’t meet you, they can’t know you and if they don’t know you they may have misconceptions and misunderstandings, but by getting to know each other, whether that be through shared interaction, like through volunteering what we do, or just by being visible in the park with our flags here today, we’re showing that we’re part of Long Beach. We’re part of this community.”

Gay for Good is a national organization present in 11 states and 15 cities, including Long Beach. Members gather monthly to participate in local volunteering opportunities, according to Friedman.

Friedman noted that while Long Beach tends to be more accepting of LGBTQ+ residents, much of the country is still very intolerant. This causes high concentrations of LGBTQ+ people to gather in more liberal spaces, such as Long Beach, to seek safety and avoid prejudice.

“Gay people tend to live in silos– communities like Long Beach– that are very friendly to people like us. However, that is not the case in every place, and so Gay for Good was formed to help bring people out of the silos and out of isolation,” Friedman said.

The Cambodian American group Qhmer was also present at the LGBTQ+ Coming Out Community Picnic. While the group helps promote acceptance for LGBTQ+ people overall, its primary goals involve advancing the cause of LGBTQ+ individuals within the Cambodian American community specifically.

“One of the things we focus on is creating a positive image in the Cambodian American community because we don’t have one,” Hunny Hach, Qhmer co-founder, told the Signal Tribune. “Second, is standardizing LGBT terms because we don’t really have any formal terms in our language for the LGBT community. Third, is to be part of community events and the local community, so this is what we’re doing,”

Hach, also known as DJ Hunny, provided music for the picnic along with the South Coast Chorale Singers.

Mallery Robinson, LGBTQ+ Center member, was put in charge of coordinating the event after her supervisor had to leave town. Despite never having organized the event before and being given only a week to do so, Robinson was able to put together the largest LGBTQ+ Coming Out Community Picnic in Long Beach to date.

Otis Hogan, a member of the board of directors for Long Beach’s LGBTQ Center, has attended the picnic all three years and commented on the growth the event has experienced.

“Its gotten a little bigger. […] We’ve gotten a wider range of supporters,” Hogan said. “So, its expanding out and the center is definitely working to expand out into greater Long Beach.”