WMU News

Leslea Newman headlines Coming Out Day activities

Oct. 6, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Activities planned at Western Michigan University in celebration of National Coming Out Day will feature a talk by the author of "Heather Has Two Mommies," which is believed to be the first children's book to portray lesbian families in a positive way.

Writer Leslea Newman will present "Poetry=Life: An AIDS Reading" at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, in Rooms 105 through 107 of the Bernhard Center. Her appearance is being sponsored by the undergraduate student group OUTspoken and is open to the public. A donation of $3 is suggested.

Newman wrote the award-winning short story "A Letter to Harvey Milk," which was made into a film and adapted for the stage. She has produced more than 40 books, including several works for children as well as adult books that deal with lesbian identity and Jewish identity themes.

OUTspoken and WMU's office of Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Student Services also will co-sponsor a resource fair at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, on the Promenade Plaza near Wood Hall. Participating will be Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Community AIDS Resources and Education Services; and the Kalamazoo Gay/Lesbian Resource Center.

An actual door will be at the fair for those who wish to walk through in a symbolic gesture of "coming out of the closet," and students may have their pictures taken by OUTspoken president Emily Walbridge.

In addition, WMU's Little Theatre will be the main site for the KG/LRC's third annual NCOD film festival. Six different films will be shown over three days: at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19, and at 12:30 and 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20.

The festival will kick off with a special family-oriented presentation on children and bullying from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Light Fine Arts Building at Kalamazoo College. The presentation is being sponsored by the KG/LRC, Arcus Foundation and Glowing Embers Girl Scout Council. It will begin with the showing of "Oliver Button is a STAR, " a film based on the Tomie DePaola children's book, "Oliver Button is a Sissy."

A talk-back session will follow with the film's producer, Daniel Hunt, and with area educators discussing tolerance with the film's featured school teacher, Mary Cowhey.

NCOD is annually celebrated on Oct. 11 as a time when people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered are encouraged to take the next step in their individual coming out processes, in hopes that greater visibility will lead to greater equality. The date commemorates the first national gay and lesbian equality march, which took place in Washington, D.C., in 1987.

For more information about Newman or the resource fair, call WMU's Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Student Services at (269) 387-2123. For more information about the film festival, call the KG/LRC at (269) 349-4234.

Media note: Leslea Newman will not be available for interviews.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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