On an unusually blustery night with wind skating across the green lawn in front of the Memorial Park bandshell, the City of Pasadena Monday celebrated the 33rd National Coming Out Day with words and songs and honors.
The event was originally launched to recognize the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, in 1979.
Presented by the Pasadena Public Health Department, the Pasadena Public Library, and Pasadena Parks, Recreation and Community Services, the program also included Covid and flu vaccination shots, a community resources fair, a childrens’ story read by drag queen Misty Violet, as well as Karaoke performances.
Following an introduction by MC Te Jay “Tia Wanna” McGrath, Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo led the evening off with an acknowledgment of the importance of the event, noting that “Pasadena is more than just the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl, it is its diversity that makes this City the center of the universe.”
Gordo was presented with a State resolution from State Senator Anthony Portantino, who told the audience about his own late brother, who was gay, and his challenges in his young life.
Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Ying Ying Goh also reminded the crowd about the physical and medical difficulties that LGBTQ young people face.
“Data shows that LGBTQ+ have a 120% higher risk of homelessness, and are less likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and are more than two times as likely as non LGBTQ+ youth to say that they have been verbally harassed and called names at school.”
Goh continued, “Older LGBTQ adults are more likely to have experienced discrimination and mistreatment in their lifetimes and have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.”
Goh said the Pasadena Public Health Dept. works to address and close these disparities.
“As a parent of a teen, I’m feeling hopeful for the next generation, because I am observing young people use language that’s non-stigmatizing, and that shows respect for each other through generous, supportive actions that demonstrate non-judgment about sexual identity,” Goh said. “That seems healthier and more positive than in generations before. We have more work to do, but I also lift up these examples of hope and progress to you.”
Keynote speaker Tyanta Snow, a Pasadena School District employee popularly known as the “Game Show Guru” for his numerous appearances on reality and game shows, presented an emotional speech complete with songs about his own struggles in coming out as gay.
Revealed Snow, “I didn’t tell my mother I was gay until my 40s, and it was in a moment of anger.” His late mother had been needling him about getting married and bringing grandchildren into the family.
Snow finally exploded, and told her, “I won’t be having any grandchildren, Mom, I’m gay!”
As Ty recalled emotionally, his mother sighed and told him, “I know you are, but I still love you, no matter what.”
Which is what “National Coming Out Day” is all about.