Jamestown Pride & the Fenton History Center Announce

Jamestown Pride in conjunction with the Fenton History Center have announced an online event to celebrate “National Coming Out Day” on Sunday, October 11th. The event will feature local members of the LGBTQIA+ community sharing their stories about themselves with a moderator that will be livestreamed in a Zoom webinar, courtesy of the Robert H. Jackson Center. The stories shared will be added to an exhibit the Fenton History Center is compiling on the history about Chautauqua County’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Jamestown Pride Coordinator Sheridan Smith said, “National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQIA+ awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other people to ‘coming out of the closet.’ The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are LGBTQIA+, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.”

“With not being able to have the large Pride event we planned in June, we wanted to do something for the community that opened the door to talking more openly about our experiences. We thank the Robert H. Jackson Center for donating the technology, facility, and assistance in making this a reality.”

Those interested in attending the Jamestown Pride’s National Coming Out Day online webinar may register at https://bit.ly/33gP33F.

Smith said, “We’re also looking for those who are interested in sharing their story at the live event. We are live streaming the story presenters from Robert H. Jackson’s theatre space on October 11th. Proper health and safety guidelines will be in place for this including mask wearing and disinfecting procedures.” Smith added there are a limited number of spaces for presenters  and those interested should email JamestownPride@mhachautauqua.org their interest by October 4, 2020.

The stories shared on October 11th will be added to the Fenton History Center’s archives on the local LGBTQIA+ community being developed thanks to grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network.

Fenton History Center Executive Director Noah Goodling said, “We found there is a large gap in our historical knowledge about the LGBTQIA+ community in Jamestown and the larger area, so we decided it was time to rectify that issue. We are currently collecting anything that may represent the experience of growing up or living in Chautauqua County as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. This could be a story, poem, picture, video, or other items.” Goodling said people may submit experiences through the Center’s website at www.fentonhistorycenter.org, email director@fentonhistorycenter.org, or drop off physical items during business hours at the Center located at 67 Washington Street, Jamestown, New York. The exhibit is planned to be opened to the public in early 2021.

The National Coming Out Day event is being made possible by Jamestown Pride operating under the Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County, Fenton History Center, Robert H. Jackson Center, and Prevention Works/Hope Chautauqua.

“We are always happy to host community events, especially those that provide opportunities for meaningful conversation and paths to understanding,” said Kristan McMahon, president of the Robert H. Jackson Center.

For more information about the National Coming Out Day Event, contact Pride Outreach Coordinator Julia Ciesla-Hanley at (716) 450-8765. For information about the LGBTQIA+ exhibit at the Fenton History Center, contact Executive Director Noah Goodling at (716) 664-6256.