May 10, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Long Beach LGBTQ+ Center Hosts Community Picnic for Queer Families

Coming Out Community Picnic provides an inclusive setting for LGBTQ+ people.

By Jorge Paniagua

For Christopher Koontz and Bobby Duong, a married gay couple who recently adopted their first baby, Johan Duong-Koontz, the Coming Out Community Picnic in Long Beach this weekend was more than just another queer event; it was an opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ+ parents like themselves.

“I enjoy ‘Pride,’ or a night out at a bar as much as the next person,” Koontz said. “But sometimes it can feel like that is the entire, sort-of, gay experience. So I think having events like this show a different side and help people meet each other and connect. [Events like these] are a really good part of having a fuller life and having some connection to other gay people.”

The couple, who have been married for three years and adopted their first infant son five months ago, relayed that they were excited to be at an event with the potentiality of meeting other LGBTQ+ families.

“When I was a gay young man I did not have any prospect of having a child,” Duong said. “So I think I did not see that when I was younger. I think events like this kind-of normalize it and help introduce younger LGBTQ+ folks to understand that there is more than partying.”

Picnic-goers weren’t afraid to show off their moves at this year’s Long Beach Coming Out Community Picnic at Houghton Park.

The event was a collaborative event hosted by the Long Beach LGBTQ+ Center and nine other organizations on Saturday. It was hosted at Houghton Park in North Long Beach and provided guests with a plethora of resource tables from varying LGBTQ+ organizations, free food and beverages, to interactive activities for kids, live music and an environment aimed at promoting inclusivity.

“We know that the LGBTQ+ community still has a long road ahead to achieve true equity and true equality and the stronger we are as a community, the stronger a force we are throughout the community and throughout the United States,” Porter Gilberg, Executive Director of the Long  Beach LGBTQ+ Center, said. “This is just one opportunity for folks to come out, recharge, make some friends, have a good time and pick up the fight tomorrow.”

Kristi Aoki competes against Noah Santiago in a friendly game of cornhole, one of the several activities provided at the Long Beach Coming Out Community Picnic at Houghton Park.

Although the event was coined as a “Coming Out” picnic, the event was not necessarily aimed at promoting undisclosed LGBTQ+ people to publicly identify as a member of the community.

“I don’t think we ever promote coming out for people — that’s a very personal journey,” Joel Gemino, Youth Services Manager for the LB LGBTQ+ Center, said. “When I hear ‘Coming Out’ picnic, I hear we come out for each other, not necessarily coming out about your identity, but we are here for each other.”

Although Gemino interpreted the event’s name in a community-centric manner, others present at the event viewed the picnic through a different lens. For example, Ryan McGinty and his partner Assaf Weinberg, two Federal Club Coaches tabling for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, provided guests with helpful resource guides to coming out. The guides included helpful tips for closeted LGBTQ+ members such as: “There is no one right or wrong way to come out. It’s a lifelong process of being ever more open and true with yourself and others — done in your own way and in your own time.”

Live music galore! The Long Beach Coming Out Community Picnic was proud to host a live performance from The South Coral Chrous, Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ chorus.

“For me, it was about worrying what other people thought and worrying that you wouldn’t be accepted by your friends and family,” McGinty said in terms of his own coming out experience. “[However] it was the best thing I ever did — I wish I did it earlier.”

The picnic was strategically planned at Houghton Park in North Long Beach, rather than an area closer to Downtown Long Beach, to highlight the reality that LGBTQ+ people are dispersed throughout the city and not all of them live in, for example, a few specific gay-friendly neighborhoods.

“The gay community in Long Beach is not restricted to Broadway or Fourth Street. There are gay families that live right here in this community,” Otis Hogan, Board Member of the Long Beach LGBTQ+ Center, said. “I think it’s good to get events, in a situation like this, away from that defined area — what you think of as the ‘gay community.’”

Families came out for fun & food at the second annual Coming Out Community Picnic, hosted by the Long Beach LGBTQ+ Center.

Furthermore, the event aimed to raise awareness of the countless LGBTQ+ assistance programs available to the community through an array of resource tables. The organizations present at the picnic included Gay For Good – an LGBTQ+ organization aimed at providing various social welfare and environmental service projects – and the Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, a networking and support organization for LGBTQ-owned businesses.

AIDS Walk Long Beach, the Long Beach LGBTQ+ Center’s next event, will take place on Nov. 11, at 10 a.m., starting at Alfredo’s Beach Club. All proceeds gathered from the event will be given to Long Beach organizations serving members of the LGBTQ+ community affected by HIV. For more information on the event or the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, CLICK HERE. 

 

Related Posts

Trunks Bar In WeHo Officially Open

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid vaccinations on the rise in the state of California many businesses have begun reopening including WeHo gay bar...

WeHo Celebrates Asian American History Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid hate crimes on the rise against Asian Americans on the rise WeHo Reads 2021 season is Creating Hollywood...

WeHo Celebrating ‘Senior Month’

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

For more than two decades, the City of West Hollywood has organized an annual series of activities to engage its...

Byron Lane Helping Young Men Understand Testicular Cancer With “Nuts & Bolts”

May 2, 2021

May 2, 2021

Hollywood author playwright, screenwriter and testicular cancer survivor Byron Lane wants to educate young men about testicular cancer.  Testicular cancer...

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony For “OUT on Robertson”

May 2, 2021

May 2, 2021

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Saturday May 1st to commemorate the newest OUT on Robertson program in West...

Caitlyn Jenner Running For Governor Of California

April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic gold medalist and transgender activist, announced that she will be running for California Governor. 71-year-old Jenner made...

WeHo Standing Up Against Sexual Violence On ‘Denim Day’

April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

The City of West Hollywood encourages everyone to wear jeans on Denim Day, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, which is an...

Last Week For Sugar Rush In L.A.

April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

This is the last week to visit Sugar Rush, an outdoor “candytropolis” that looks like a gay wonderland. From the...

Disarm Hate Documentary Presented By onePULSE Foundation

April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021

The onePULSE Foundation announced its free virtual film screening of the director’s cut of the documentary, Disarm Hate, which takes...

The LGBT Center Long Beach’s Response To George Floyd Trial

April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach has released a statement in response to the verdict following the George Floyd trial.  On...

WeHo Introduces “OUT on Robertson”

April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is responding in a variety of creative ways to community needs as the region navigates...

Dogdrop A Queer Owned Local Doggy Daycare

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

Dogdrop a local queer owned doggy daycare prioritizes pet wellness.  Shaina and Greer are two queer women who founded Dogdrop...

Los Angeles LGBTQ Center Receives 80K Grant

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

The Los Angeles LGBT Center received an $80,000 grant to help Californians enroll in Medi-Cal and other programs.  The grant...

SaMo Pride Announces Art Walk

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

In honor of Pride Month SaMo Pride has announced it’s art walk throughout June which will feature family friendly programming. ...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Looking For Volunteers

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

In the spirit of National Volunteer Month held in the month of April the LGBTQ Center Long Beach is seeking...